By Abdullahi Usman
The National Primary Health Care Department Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that diphtheria has so far killed 20 people in Kaduna State.
NPHCDA also confirmed 156 cases of the disease in the state, and commended the effort of the state government in combating the disease.
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib who is also the Co-Chair of the Federal Task Team on Diphtheria, told journalists after he visited the Kaduna Diphtheria Treatment Centre, that they were at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital to assess the situation of the diphtheria outbreak that affected part of Kaduna state.
“Kaduna is ranked among the 7 states with the high number of diphtheria. We are at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital where mild to moderate cases are being attended to before being admitted to the infectious disease hospitals,” he said.
Dr Faisal explained that since March when the diphtheria outbreak was detected in Kaduna, 150 cases and about 20 deaths were recorded. “That is high for diphtheria, but we also recognize that most of the patients are presented lately.There is also need for the media to step up in creating awareness and providing useful information to the public about existence of the disease, “he added.
He said there was need for patients with the disease to be presented early, together with their contacts to for vaccination.
“Diphtheria is a preventable disease, about 80 per cent of those afflicted by the diseases did not presented themselves for vaccination,” he said.
He stated further that, the diphtheria outbreak was due to low population immunity which was created by low vaccination coverage, stressing that “the discrepancy of the outbreak even within Kaduna, shows that the LGAs that have high rate of vaccination, record lower cases of the disease.”
Vaccines, he said, were the most powerful tools against diphtheria which is a vaccine preventable disease.
He commended efforts of the state government in combating the disease, and admonished the people to wear nose masks especially when visiting health facilities.
Dr Faisal also commended the Chief Medical Director of the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital and the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Board for their leadership and hoped that the outbreak would soon be contained.