The Federal Government (FG) through the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, has set-up an emergency taskforce to curb the spread of diphtheria in the country according to a press statement issued on Thursday by Pate’s Special Assistant on Media and External Relations, Tashikalmah Hallah.
The statement revealed that the taskforce would be co-chaired by the Executive Director (ED) of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib as well as the Director-General (DG) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.
Other members include the Director of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Anyaike Chukwuma; representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Federal Ministry of Information and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on Primary Healthcare Delivery .
Pate said, “There should be massive mobilization and sensitization. This is where the NTLC is critical. Our people should be aware of the disease, the dangers inherent in and what they need to do. We must mount a rapid response as our children are returning to school.
“I am also glad that the ED of NPHCDA has shelved his trip to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, to lead the rapid response team to Kano-the epicenter of the crisis.”
Diptheria has been detected in 14 states in Nigeria which are Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Nassarawa, Osun, Plateau, Yobe, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease which can be fatal in 5 to 10 per cent of cases, with a high mortality rate especially amongst young children.
The statement also revealed that the UNICEF has obtained 1.2 million vials of tetanus-diptheria vaccine to support the FG’s response to the outbreak.