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Diphtheria kills 520 in Kano

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The Director General of Kano State Primary Healthcare Management Board, Dr. Muhammad Mahmud, has said that about 520 children are suspected to have lost their lives following the diphtheria outbreak in the state in 2023.

Mahmud made the disclosure while speaking to newsmen at a one-day media orientation on the diphtheria outbreak, supported by UNICEF, in Kano on Tuesday.

“There is data we generated through our digital surveillance and reporting system. This year, Kano reported about 8,700 suspected cases of diphtheria and 6,300 confirmed cases, with about 520 children suspected to have died of this illness.

“We tracked this on a daily and weekly basis; we believe the cases are much more than what we are getting, as we witnessed the increase of the cases from July”, he said.

The DG added that the cases were reported from 39 local governments out of the 44 local governments in the state, while the cases worsened within the eight metropolitan local governments.

Mahmud, who described Diphtheria as a threat to child survival, health, and the well-being of children, said UNICEF is collaborating with the government and other partners to respond to the emergency and save the lives of the children affected.

He said UNICEF had this week delivered 1.2 million vaccines to the Kano State government in its continuing support for the government’s response to the Diphtheria outbreaks.

In his remarks, the Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Kano, Mr. Rahama R. Mohammed Farah, said, about 60.8 per cent of total suspected cases of Diphtheria diseases are from unimmunized children.

Mr. Farah, who emphasized the importance of routine immunization as well as the danger related to the issue of zero doses, said the majority of suspected victims of Diphtheria are children who did not receive a single dose of vaccination against the children’s killer diseases including diphtheria.

“So far, the highest number of cases of Diphtheria have been reported from Kano State; for example, out of the 44 LGAs of Kano State, the Diphtheria disease has spread to 39 LGAs.

“Since January 2023, Kano State has reported over 5,800 cumulative cases of Diphtheria in the state. Although there was a decline in the reported cases in June, as of July, these Diphtheria cases have been on the rise. As of last week, over 400 suspected cases with 11 deaths have been reported in Kano State,”, he said.

According to him, eight LGAs are the most affected: Ungogo (2651), Dala (989), Fagge (943), Gwale (714), Kumbotso (713), Nassarawa (538), Kano Municipal (506), and Tarauni (269).

He said that in Kano, UNICEF support covers a wide range of interventions, including the following: the Td Tetanus-Diphtheria reactive vaccination campaigns in February, April, and August 2023. So far, three rounds have been conducted: 23,200 children were vaccinated in round one; 277,796 children were vaccinated in round two; and 29,500 children were vaccinated in round three.

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