Diphtheria Outbreak: Death Toll Rises to 520 in Kano

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 1-day media orientation on the diphtheria outbreak, supported by UNICEF in Kano on Tuesday.

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

“We tracked this on daily and weekly basis, we believe the cases are much more than what we are getting, as we witness 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 was collaborating with the government and other partners to respond to the emergency to 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 continued support to the government for response to 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 majority of suspected victims of diphtheria were 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 was 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 reported over 5,800 cumulative cases of Diphtheria in the state, Although, there was a decline in the reported case in June, however, 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 were the most affected: They are 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 covered a wide range of interventions, including in the following are supported 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.