Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, has established an emergency task force aimed at containing the Diphtheria outbreak in the nation.
It’s worth mentioning that Diphtheria has been detected in 14 states, and Kano stands as the epicentre of the outbreak.
The co-chairpersons of the task force will be Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who serves as the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Other members of the task force included, Director of Public Health in the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Anyaike Chukwuma, representatives from the World Health Organisation, WHO, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, the Federal Ministry of Information and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery, NTLC.
As clarified by the minister, the task force is set to function in an emergency capacity, with the goal of preventing further spread to additional states and providing relief to the population.
In a statement signed by Tashikalmah Hallah, Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Media and External Relations: ‘There should be massive mobilisation and sensitization.’
‘This is where the NTLC is critical. Our people should be aware about the disease, the dangers inherent in 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 states hit by the disease include: Lagos, Osun, Federal Captial Territory, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, Kano and Plateau.
In addition, the Coordinating Minister stressed that the task force team should coordinate with the Governors of the 14 affected States to secure counterpart funding, establish ownership, and drive mass mobilisation.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has secured 1.2 million vials to aid the Federal government’s response to the outbreak, as announced by Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative, in a meeting with Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare.
According to her, ‘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’m pleased to announce that UNICEF, on behalf of the government, has procured 1.2 million vials of the Td vaccine which have 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.’
Diphtheria, known for its high contagiousness, is transmitted through airborne droplets or contact with contaminated personal items.