WHO says Nigeria will receive diphtheria antitoxin in August.
Glamtush reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday said plans are underway to deliver 1800 vials of Diphtheria Antitoxin to Nigeria on August 2.
This online platform understands that this was made known by WHO country representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, at a joint press conference held in Abuja on diphtheria outbreak response organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
Dr Mulombo also said Nigeria would receive Erythromycin on or before two weeks, pending the government authorisation as the health commodities are essential for saving lives and reducing complications in affected patients.
Mulombo said WHO was requested by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to procure DAT and Erythromycin IV for the case management of diphtheria cases.
Diphtheria antitoxin is a medication made up of antibodies used in the treatment of diphtheria. Erythromycin IV refers to intravenous administration of the antibiotic medication erythromycin. Erythromycin is a macrolide antibiotic that is used to treat various bacterial infections. It works by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, thereby helping the body’s immune system to fight off the infection.
“These health commodities are essential for saving lives and reducing the sequelae in the affected patients, thus need to be prepositioned in Nigeria and ready to be deployed to the states in need,” he said.
He noted that the deployment process is underway following the requested profile and a mix of the workforce from the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme and the WHO team is on the ground in Yobe and Kano states to improve the surveillance at the health facility and community level.
He added that the organisation is also supporting the procurement of laboratory commodities to increase the result turnaround time to support the case definition and management at an early stage.
Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the Corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes, the skin of an individual.
As of July 27, Nigeria has 836 diphtheria and 83 deaths from Cross River, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Yobe, and the Federal Capital Territory.
From May 2022 to July 2023, an estimated 2,455 suspected cases have been reported in 26 states in the country.
The UNICEF Chief of Health in Nigeria, Eduardo Celades, said the country is home to the second-largest number of zero-dose children in the world.
Celades said so far, the country had been able to reach about 150,000 children while stressing that more needed to be done.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a recurrence of diphtheria in the country.
“Zero-dose children remain vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, along with under-immunised or “missed dose” children, which refers to those who do not complete their immunisation as stated in the National Immunisation schedule,” he said.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said a comprehensive response plan had been activated to detect cases early, contain the spread, and prevent further transmission through a multi-phased strategy.
“The response to the ongoing diphtheria outbreak will be carried out in two phases. Phase one will encompass 25 Local Government Areas across Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, and Kaduna. This phase is scheduled to begin on August 7, 2023, and will continue until August 11, 2023.”
“Phase two will cover outbreak response in 171 LGAs in Kano, Katsina, FCT, Yobe, Kaduna, and Bauchi, while there will be targeted outbreak responses in LGAs across eight states: Jigawa (eight LGAs), Borno (four LGAs), Osun (four LGAs), Lagos (three LGAs), Zamfara (three LGAs), Gombe (three LGAs), Plateau (one LGA), and Nasarawa (one LGA).”