The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) reported Monday that 117 children had died as a result of a Diphtheria outbreak in Yobe since 2022. It did, however, state that 1,600 youngsters had recovered from the condition over the time period under consideration.
The Agency’s Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, announced this during an inspection visit to the Diphtheria isolation center in Potiskum, the state’s epicenter of the disease.
He stated that 1,796 cases of the sickness have been registered in Yobe since November 22, with the condition being more frequent among youngsters aged five to fourteen.
Shuaib, who led the state’s Diphtheria Emergency Task Team, expressed pleasure with the diphtheria vaccinations carried out in Potiskum and 17 other local government units.
“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,” he 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 per cent 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 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.
Despite Yobe being second only to Kano State in terms of diphtheria cases across the country, Shuaib believes that improvements in environmental and personal hygiene would eliminate the illness.
The NPHCDA director praised the Yobe government and development partners for their roles in combating diphtheria and vowed continuous support to help the state enhance healthcare delivery. He emphasized the importance of an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for effective diphtheria monitoring, referral, and care.