As diphtheria outbreak spreads to 14 states, the coordinating minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, has constituted an Emergency Taskforce to curb the outbreak in the country.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease that spreads through airborne droplets or contaminated personal items.
The disease has been detected in 15 states, with Kano as the epicentre.
The minister said the taskforce is to be co-chaired by the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib and the director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.
Other members of the taskforce include, director of public health in the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Anyaike Chukwuma, representatives from World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Federal Ministry of Information and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).
He said the taskforce is to operate in an emergency mode in order to forestall further spread to other states and bring succour to the populace.
“There should be massive mobilisation and sensitisation. This is where the NTLC is critical. Our people should be aware about the disease, the dangers inherent in it and what they need to do. We must mount rapid response as our children are returning to school.
“I am also glad that the ED/NPHCDA has shelved his trip to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), meetings in New York, to lead the rapid response team to Kano the epicentre of the crisis”, Prof Pate added.
The 14 infected states are, Lagos, Osun, Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, Plateau and Kano.
The coordinating minister also stated that the taskforce team should liaise with the governors of the 14 infected states for counterpart funding, ownership and mass mobilisation.
Also, UNICEF has procured 1.2 million vials as support to the federal government’s response to the outbreak. UNICEF representative, Dr Rownak Khan, said in a meeting with the coordinating minister.
She said, “We had a productive meeting with the minister of Health, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, earlier today, and I want to affirm UNICEF’s unwavering commitment to supporting the government’s comprehensive response to the diphtheria outbreak.
“I am pleased to announce that UNICEF, on behalf of the government, has procured 1.2 million vials of the Td vaccine which arrived in Nigeria earlier today. These will be immediately dispatched to Kano, which is at the heart of this outbreak. Our collective aim is to safeguard the health and future of every child in Nigeria.”