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15m children vaccinated against diphtheria -Health Minister

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate said over five million children have been immunised with the pentavalent vaccine and 10 million children with Tetanus-Diphtheria vaccine since the inception of diphtheria response.

Prof Pate disclosed this on Wednesday at the ministerial press briefing series initiated by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation.

Pentavalent vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

The TD vaccine prevents tetanus and diphtheria.

Diphtheria disease

Diphtheria symptomsLast Friday, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Jide Idris noted that Nigeria has recorded 16,248 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths since 2022.

Currently, Nigeria is also responding to Lassa fever, meningitis, measles, among others.

In September 2023, Pate constituted an emergency taskforce to curb the diphtheria outbreak in the country.

In November 2023, the government launched a task force to work towards Lassa fever development in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Prof Pate said the Federal Government’s commitment to immunisation has yielded remarkable results in protecting the population from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Pate said, “Through robust vaccination campaigns and outreach programmes, we have achieved significant strides in sustaining immunisation coverage nationwide, safeguarding our communities, particularly our children, from devastating diseases.

“Notably, our swift response to the diphtheria outbreak underscored our commitment to proactive disease control measures, swiftly containing the spread and saving countless lives.

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Since the inception of diphtheria response, over 5 million children have been immunized with the Penta vaccine and 10 million children with Td vaccines.”

Pate said the government has provided steadfast support to states in combating the scourge of Lassa fever.

He also said the government has commenced the distribution of response commodities to states and treatment centres to combat the threat of Lassa fever.

Lassa fever
Lassa fever signs and symptoms

“These include Personal Protective Equipment, Ribavirin (injection and tablets), body bags, thermometers, hypochlorite hand sanitizers, and Information, Education, and Communication materials.

“By ensuring the availability of these critical resources, we aim to equip healthcare workers and facilities with the necessary tools to effectively manage and contain outbreaks.

“Recognising the importance of strategic planning and preparedness, we have developed a robust distribution plan for Lassa fever commodities. This plan ensures the timely and equitable distribution of resources to states and treatment centers based on their specific needs and vulnerability. Additionally, prepositioning of commodities has been undertaken to facilitate swift response and minimise logistical challenges during outbreaks.

“Confirmed cases of Lassa fever are promptly treated at identified treatment centers across the states. These centres are equipped with the necessary medical expertise, facilities, and medications to provide comprehensive care to patients. By centralising treatment and care, we can effectively manage cases, prevent transmission, and improve patient outcomes,” he said.

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He added that the government is committed to mitigating the impact of Lassa fever and safeguarding the health and well-being of all Nigerians through strategic planning, resource allocation, and collaborative efforts with state governments and healthcare partners.

Gracie Brown
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