In response to the increasing number of diphtheria cases reported across several states, the federal government has taken decisive action by establishing an emergency task force to address this public health menace.
Muhammad Pate, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, made the announcement on Thursday in Abuja, emphasizing the urgency to curb the spread of the disease, which has been detected in 14 states, with Kano being the epicenter.
The affected states include Lagos, Osun, FCT, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Kano.
The task force will be co-chaired by Faisal Shuaib, the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, and Ifedayo Adetifa, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Key members of the task force include Anyaike Chukwuma, the ministry’s director in charge of public health, as well as representatives from the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the Information Ministry, and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).
The primary objective of the task force is to operate in an emergency mode, preventing further spread of diphtheria to other states and providing relief to affected communities.
Extensive mobilization and sensitization efforts, particularly through the involvement of NTLC, will be crucial in raising awareness about the disease, its inherent dangers, and the necessary preventive measures, especially with children returning to school.
To ensure effective implementation, the task force will collaborate closely with state governors to secure counterpart funding, foster ownership, and facilitate mass mobilization efforts.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease transmitted through airborne droplets or contaminated personal items..