Kano State in Nigeria has been grappling with a severe diphtheria outbreak in 2023, which has raised concerns about child health and survival in the region. According to Dr. Muhammad Mahmud, the Director General of Kano State Primary Healthcare Management Board, approximately 520 children are suspected to have lost their lives due to this outbreak. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of this alarming situation and the efforts being made to address it.
The Diphtheria Outbreak:
Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the throat and upper respiratory tract. It poses a significant threat to children’s health and well-being, making it essential to respond promptly to outbreaks. In Kano State, this outbreak has had devastating consequences, with over 8,700 suspected cases reported and 6,300 confirmed cases.
The outbreak began to escalate from July onwards, with 39 out of the 44 local governments in Kano State reporting cases. Alarming numbers of cases were concentrated in the eight metropolitan local governments. This surge in diphtheria cases has raised concerns among health authorities and the community.
To combat this diphtheria outbreak, UNICEF has joined forces with the government and other partners to save the lives of affected children. UNICEF’s support includes the delivery of 1.2 million vaccines to the Kano State government to bolster the response efforts.
The Importance of Routine Immunization:
One striking revelation from this outbreak is that approximately 60.8% of suspected diphtheria cases involve unimmunized children. This underscores the critical importance of routine immunization in preventing deadly diseases like diphtheria. It is alarming that most of the affected children had not received any vaccination against these life-threatening diseases.
Most Affected Local Government Areas:
Eight local government areas have been the most affected by the outbreak: Ungogo, Dala, Fagge, Gwale, Kumbotso, Nassarawa, Kano Municipal, and Tarauni. These areas have reported a significant number of cases, highlighting the need for targeted intervention efforts.
UNICEF’s Supportive Interventions:
UNICEF’s involvement in Kano State extends beyond vaccine deliveries. They have supported Tetanus-Diphtheria reactive vaccination campaigns, conducted in February, April, and August of 2023. These campaigns have aimed to vaccinate thousands of children in an effort to curb the outbreak.
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