In a concerning revelation, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), has sounded the alarm on a diphtheria outbreak in Kaduna State.
This health crisis has already claimed 20 lives out of 156 reported cases.
Dr. Shuaib brought this grave issue to light during his visit to the Kaduna Diphtheria Treatment Centre at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, where he led the Diphtheria National Task Team.
The CEO stressed the importance of public awareness and early diagnosis, underlining the urgency of the situation.
He said, “Since March 2023, when the outbreak was first detected in Kaduna, we have witnessed 156 cases and approximately 20 fatalities, which is alarmingly high for diphtheria.”
He continued, “We acknowledge that some patients are seeking medical help too late, making it crucial for the media to step up and raise awareness among the community members about this outbreak.
Early presentation to health facilities is vital for receiving the necessary medication.”
Dr. Shuaib highlighted the preventable nature of this disease, stating that over 80% of those affected had not received the diphtheria vaccine.
He emphasized the correlation between low population immunity and low vaccination coverage, which has led to this outbreak.
He concluded by saying, “Vaccines are the most powerful tool against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
In his commendation, Dr. Shuaib recognized the efforts of the Kaduna State government and frontline health workers in their fight against the outbreak.
The CEO encouraged the use of face masks, especially when visiting health facilities, and stressed the importance of personal hygiene practices like coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow.
He also called for improved case finding in affected communities, emphasizing that the battle against diphtheria was far from over.
Dr. Shuaib lauded the Northern traditional leaders for their role in eradicating diphtheria and polio in the region.
Dr. Shu’aibu Musa, the chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, added that diphtheria predominantly affects children between 5 to 14 years old, but anyone with compromised immunity is at risk.
He urged Kaduna State residents to prioritize personal hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease.
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