from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – NO less than 89 people, mostly children, have died from an outbreak of diphtheria in Nigeria this year.
The outbreak has been labelled as one of the most severe in the West African country in a decade.
The fatalities are from a total of 733 suspected cases the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recorded since January 1 when first cases were notified in Kano and Lagos.
Individuals between the ages of five and 18 are the group most afflicted, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC).
Data obtained by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that 20 states are enduring an outbreak.
Nigeria has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A majority of cases (74 percent) have been reported in Kano, in the north.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has allocated CHF 355 168 (US$381 921) as intervention.
This funding targets more than 1,58 million people affected by the outbreak.
Diphtheria is a severe bacterial infection that can affect a person’s nose, throat and occasionally, the skin.
Unvaccinated children are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease. Healthcare professionals, hospital frontline workers, and anyone who has come into contact with suspected or confirmed diphtheria cases are also at risk.
The Red Cross stated that due to insufficient testing equipment in Nigeria, the cases for diphtheria are not diagnosed on time and reported comprehensively.
NCDC has indicated it is facing challenges with availability of testing kits.
Some staff have not received adequate training on how to test for diphtheria.
“In addition, ongoing issues in Nigeria such as elections have also caused a huge delay in testing for diphtheria as well as obtaining the cumulative figures,” said a Red Cross spokesperson.
State elections are scheduled for this weekend.
– CAJ News