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Senate tells Health Ministry to immunize vulnerable Nigerians against Diphtheria 



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The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Health to commence immunization of vulnerable Nigerians against Diphtheria disease following the death of 20 persons in Kaduna State. 

The Senate resolution followed a motion which came under order 41 and 51 sponsored by Sunday Marshall Katung (PDP Kaduna South) informing the Senators that about 20 people have died of Diphtheria in Kafanchan and Makarfi local government areas of Kaduna State. 

Katung said the index case of a four-year-old male child whose illness started on July 4 in Jema’a LGA has led to the killing of about 20 people.

The lawmaker noted that since this index case, the Kaduna State Government has confirmed that the death toll from the diphtheria outbreak in the State has risen to 17 with 68 suspected cases identified across the state as at Sunday the 23rd of July 2023;

According to him, a breakdown analysis shows that10 persons had reportedly died from the disease in Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, while 3 children died in Makarfi Local Government Area, while seven others were hospitalized

“Cognizant that diphtheria is a highly contagious, infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheria rendering infected people struck with serious breathing and swallowing problems that may develop sores on the skin;

“Worried that the highly contagious nature of the disease means that without immediate and concerted efforts towards curbing it, the disease would spread at a devastating rate especially considering the communal and poor living conditions in most rural communities in Nigeria;

“Avers that Nigeria’s recent experiences with Ebola virus and the Covid19 pandemic shows why outbreaks of virus epidemics must be fought with the best biomedical and scientific tools and knowledge available,” Katung said.

The Senate, however, mandated the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and the Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) to liaise with the hierarchy of the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and other states for massive vaccines against the disease. 

Also, the Senate called for intensify search for active cases of diphtheria with contact tracing, risk communication activities and movement of affected cases to health facilities for management.

The Senator also mandated the Federal Ministry of Health to liaise with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health with a view to moving health workers to the affected areas and also intensifying surveillance activities across the 23 LGAs of Kaduna State and neighboring states of Kano, Plateau and Nasarawa State. 

“The ministry of health should carry out immunization across the country and the executive should fully fund all research institutions and agencies involved in vaccine production,” the Senate said. 

Contributing to the debate, Sen Ibrahim Khalid (PDP Kaduna North), who seconded to Katung’s motion, added that the disease was dangerous and deadly.

Khalid said the spread of the disease is wider now adding that instead of focusing on the five local governments that are affected, the government should look at a holistic approach.

The lawmaker said Jama’a and Makarfi LGAs are border towns with Kano, Katsina while Jama’a LGA shared borders with Nasarawa and Plateau state adding that if the disease is contained in these communities, it will help stop the loss of lives. 

Also, Tony Nwoye (LP Anambra North) said the disease is very infectious and dangerous which look like Ebola and COVID-19. 

He said the bacteria is very stubborn, adding that the government must provide the vaccine immediately. 

Also, Darlington Nwokocha (Abia Central) said the motion is a wake up call adding that as the budget is coming, they must look at the health Sector critically. 

On his part, Sen Diket Plang (Plateau Central) said the nature of the disease is very dangerous adding that the season is a season where people interact adding that the disease can be spread through contact. 

The Senate President Goodwill Akpabio, who thanked Katung for bringing the motion, added that it will save lives and help the country from going into pandemic. 

“This one has a preventable solution. Everyone should be up and doing so that this disease do not reach a pandemic level,” Akpabio added

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Media professionals move to curb apathy towards HVP vaccination




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From Daniel Abel Lafia

Media professionals under the auspices of Sustainable Media Advocacy Foundation (SMAF), on Wednesday promised to intensify media campaigns against the negative public perception of Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus among young girls between the ages of 9 and 14 years in the state through intensive campaigns.

The foundation Chairman, Mr. Kalu Idika made this known at its advocacy meeting organized to review its activities in Lafia.

According to the SMAF Chairman, the objective of the organization is to promote media engagement for sustainable development.

“We are available to partner with any group to create every necessary awareness for people at the grassroots level.

“We are registered professionals ready to partner with any interested organization to sensitize, promote, and reach out to the nooks and crannies of the state in any field of endeavor.

The chairman, however, recalled that the foundation had undergone several trainings and have also engaged in sensitization in the area of safe sex among adolescence, maternal mortality in partnership with local and international Non Governmental Organizations, (NGOs).

Mr. Kalu noted that the foundation is currently partnering with the National Primary Health Development Agency, (NAPHDA), to ensure girls between ages 6-14 receive vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV launched by Governor Abdullahi Sule.

Kalu, however, stated that the Foundation has undertaken many activities in the past as well adding that they enjoyed technical support from International organizations and Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NAPHDA),

Mr. Ishaya Amegwa, who represented the state’s health educator, commended the foundation in ensuring adequate awareness against the myth and misconceptions about the vaccine.

With the help of the media engagement, more people are coming out even as parents are bringing their girls within the age bracket to receive the vaccine.

‘The media came to our assistance and created the necessary awareness that we needed at that time to encourage the young girls to avail themselves for the vaccination.

In a remark, the Research Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support Lead of The Challenge Initiative, Taco, Oluwafemi Timothy Rotimi, commended SMAF for the collaboration commencement and implementation of its programme in the state.

Rotimi also noted that the Foundation had reached out to various communities and the public through its media platforms in order to communicate the positive outcome impacted on the wellbeing of the people of the state.

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Malnutrition: USAID doles out RUFT worth 3.5 million Dollars to Nigeria




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The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated 60,000 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUFT) to Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto States to mitigate severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria.

USAID in a press statement made available to journalists after the official handover of the RUFT in Abuja on Thursday, said the approach became necessary as millions of Nigerian children are being affected by malnutrition.

The agency stated that the approach is in collaboration with the Nigerian government, to strengthen local RUTF manufacturing, as well as incorporate RUTF into state health systems such as health insurance, drug revolving funds, and health budgets.

The statement reads in part, “The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), donated over 60,000 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)-valued at $3.5 million to the governors of Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto states in Nigeria. The handover is part of USAID’s bid to expand access to treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

“In Nigeria, severe acute malnutrition remains a significant public health concern, affecting 3.6 million children. With challenges of food insecurity, limited access to quality healthcare, and inadequate nutrition interventions, multisectoral collaboration and innovation is needed. Expanding sustainable local access to affordable, life-saving nutrition commodities is essential to address severe malnutrition in Nigerian children.”

The agency added that the approach also  improves the quality of groundnut inputs for manufacturing RUTF, to strengthen the quality of nutrition health services and to integrate humanitarian nutrition services more sustainably.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, USAID Mission Director, Melissa Jones said, “Reducing malnutrition is a critical component of improving health, education, and inclusive economic development.

“We commend Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health for including RUTF and other nutrition commodities in the list of essential medicines. Doing so allows this life-saving essential food to be procured and made available at all health facilities.”

Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Hon. Mohammed Auwal Jatau, commended USAID for its interventions in Bauchi.

Jatau gave the indication while receiving 17,500 cartons of RUTF donated by the USAID to the Bauchi State government.

The Deputy Governor said to reciprocate  the gesture, the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed would continue to fulfil the obligations of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU.

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Diphtheria Outbreak: UNICEF Donates 3.1 m Vaccine Dosages




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By Ahmed Rufa’i, Dutse

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has donated 3.1 million Diphtheria vaccines as part of the organization’s response to Diphtheria out break in the country.

This was disclosed by the UNICEF country Director, Ms Christian Manduate while speaking during a courtesy visit to the JIgawa state governor, Malam Umar Namadi Danmodi at government house Dutse.

The country Director promised a continuation with interventions and technical support for the improvement of education, healthcare, birth and death registration in the state.

According to her other areas of its intervention included Child Nutrition and other aspects of economic and human capital development

Ms Christian Manduate commended governor Namadi for achieving milestones on child protection and development in the state.

She said JIgawa state is among the beneficiary of the 3.1 million vaccines from the UNICEF.

Ms Manduate appealed to the governor to be part of their advocacy team in northern states, as she promised to provide more technical assistance through training of Jigawa health workers.

According to the country Director, despite effort made by Jigawa government to fight five child killer diseases there are numerious challenges on the high number of malnourished children in the state.

She maintained that, most of the Diphtheria victims are unimmunized children with zero dose record, adding that UNICEF will continue collaborate with the government to improve nutrition and reduce the number of out of schools children.

In his response, the JIgawa state governor Malam Umar Namadi lauded UNICEF, saying that their interventions are yielding fruitful result in almost all the critical sectors in Jigawa.

Governor Namadi promised to timeously release counterpart funds to UNICEF, indicating that the state government has gone far on it’s plan to involve Almajiri system into formal education system, to reduce the number of out of school children.

He commended the UNICEF team for visiting Jigawa and promised that he is opened for more collaboration to save and improve the lives of children in the state.

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