As more states come under diphtheria, the federal government has established an emergency task force to tackle the menace.
Muhammad Pate, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, who announced this on Thursday in Abuja, said the target was to curb the spread of the disease detected in 14 states, with Kano as the epicentre.
He listed the states as Lagos, Osun, FCT, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Kano.
According to the minister, the task force will be co-chaired by Faisal Shuaib, the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, and Ifedayo Adetifa, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Other members include Anyaike Chukwuma, the ministry’s director in charge of public health.
Also, to be represented on the team are the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the Information Ministry and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).
The minister said that the task force’s primary objective was to operate in an emergency mode to prevent further spread of diphtheria to other states and provide relief to affected communities.
He underscored the need for extensive mobilisation and sensitisation efforts, particularly through the involvement of NTLC.
“The public must be aware of the disease, its inherent dangers, and the necessary preventive measures, especially with children returning to school,” he said.
The minister emphasised the need for the task force to collaborate with state governors to secure counterpart funding, foster ownership, and facilitate mass mobilisation efforts.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease transmitted through airborne droplets or contaminated personal items.