NPHCDA Launches Capacity Training for Health Workers to Curb Brain Drain

NPHCDA: 83 Diphtheria Deaths Recorded, More Imminent

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has predicted that more deaths resulting from Diphtheria would be recorded across the country, particularly among children.

It confirmed that 83 deaths have been so far recorded across 26 states of the country as of the end of July 2023.

NPHCDA Executive Director Dr Faisal Shuaib told journalists at a press conference in Abuja, on Monday, that some measures have been activated by the Agency and its partners to “arrest” the growing spread of the disease, which, it restated, was preventable through vaccination.

He explained: “Diphtheria is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria. It mainly spread through direct contact with an infected person or exposure to airborne droplets. It poses a severe risk to people of all ages, particularly children.

“Unfortunately there’s still a significant number
children that are unvaccinated despite the availability of vaccines in the country’s routine immunization schedule, thus compromising the country’s goal of achieving population immunity despite the efforts of the Federal Government to provide safe and cost-effective vaccines.

“The disease primarily affects the respiratory system, and presents symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, neck swelling, and breathing difficulties. The symptoms if left untreated can lead to death, with a higher risk for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated children in crowded and unsanitary areas.

“Adherence to proper hygiene practices is crucial in preventing the spread of diphtheria. Measures like hand hygiene, good cough etiquettes, clean environment, nutritiously balanced meals, isolating and quarantine of suspected cases can significantly reduce the risk of infection.”

He maintained that Diphtheria is totally preventable through vaccination, and in Nigeria, pentavalent vaccines are used to protect against diphtheria and are administered to children at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks of age, with additional doses being given during campaigns.”

The NPHCDA boss, however, highlighted that a comprehensive response plan has been activated to detect cases early, contain the spread, and prevent further transmission through a multi-phased strategy.