The Federal Government says it has finalised plans to establish a national diphtheria laboratory for the testing of suspected cases.
This is as cases are currently 13,204, with fears of more outbreaks heightening.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the deadly disease has spread to at least 18 states, while 13,204 persons are suspected to have been infected. It noted that of the number, 8,406 cases have been confirmed across 114 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory.
The Director General of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, said based on the development, efforts were on to establish a national diphtheria laboratory.
Diphtheria, caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, is a vaccine-preventable disease covered by one of the vaccines provided routinely through Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.
“Last week, the national diphtheria task force deployed the National Rapid Response Teams to Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Jigawa and Zamfara to support the outbreak response in the states across all pillars,” Adetifa said.
According to him, the teams were offering on-site surveillance and response support in the affected states.
He said, “Through the laboratory network, we continue to conduct preliminary and confirmatory testing at sub-national and national levels. Currently, we have 14 laboratories in the Diphtheria Laboratory Network with capacity to support diphtheria testing. Optimisation of five additional laboratories at the subnational level is currently ongoing.
“There is also continuous provision of technical support to public health laboratory scientists across states. We are currently finalising the development of the National Diphtheria Laboratory.”
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib noted that the government launched rapid and comprehensive vaccination campaigns across the affected regions.
“Kano, as the epicentre of this outbreak, has been at the forefront of our vaccination efforts. Working with the state governments, we implemented rounds one and two of the vaccination campaign in five high-burden LGAs in February and April 2023.
“Beyond Kano, we expanded our response to include Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, and Yobe in our Phase One response,” he added.