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Diphtheria kills 117 children as 1,796 cases are recorded in Yobe



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By Bala Dauda, Damaturu


The National Primary Health Care Development Agency ( NPHCDA) on Monday said diphtheria has killed 117 children in Yobe from 2022 to 2023, even as 1,600 children have recovered from the disease within the period under review.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Agency’s Executive Director, stated this when he visited diphtheria isolation centre in Potiskum, the epicentre of the disease in the state.

He said 1,796 cases of the disease were reported in Yobe since November 22, with children of between 5 and 14 years as the main victims.

Shuaib, who led Diphtheria Emergency Task Team to the state, expressed satisfaction with diphtheria vaccination conducted in Potiskum and the 17 local government areas of the state.

“ By October 12, more vulnerable kids will be provided with vaccines to curtail the disease. Vaccines are powerful; they are safe and they work.

“ Diphtheria is a disease of ancient times; with vaccination, deaths are preventable,” the executive director said.

He noted that low vaccination was responsible for the recent outbreak of the disease across the country.

“ In 2016 and 2017, MICS NICS survey, an independent survey of National Bureau of Statistics, indicated that only 33 percent of Nigerians were covered by vaccinations.

“ Due to concerted efforts by the Federal Government and development partners, the figure rose to 70 percent in 2019.

“ But the outbreak of COVID-19 in which prevented many people from taking their children for vaccination due to lockdown and fear of contracting COVID-19, there was a deep in coverage down to 57 percent,” he said.

Shuaib said in spite of Yobe being second to only Kano in cases of diphtheria across the country, improvement in environmental and personal hygiene would eliminate the disease.

The executive director commended Yobe state and development partners for their various roles in tackling diphtheria, promising to continue to support the state in health care service delivery.

He, however, said there was a need to provide an intensive care unit in which acute cases of diphtheria could be referred to for proper monitoring and management.

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