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FG to establish national Diphtheria laboratory


Amid a surge in diphtheria cases, the Nigerian government is in the final stages of establishing a national laboratory dedicated to testing for the deadly disease.

The laboratory will be a critical addition to the country’s public health infrastructure, as it will help to expedite the diagnosis and treatment of diphtheria cases.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can cause severe respiratory problems and even death. It is preventable with vaccination, but cases have been on the rise in Nigeria in recent months.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), there have been over 13,000 suspected diphtheria cases and over 8,400 confirmed cases in 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory since the beginning of the year.

In response to the outbreak, the NCDC has deployed rapid response teams to several states to support surveillance and response efforts. The agency is also working to expand the country’s diphtheria laboratory network.

Currently, we have 14 laboratories in the Diphtheria Laboratory Network with capacity to support diphtheria testing,” said NCDC Director General Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa. “Optimisation of five additional laboratories at the sub national level is currently ongoing.”

In addition to establishing the national laboratory, the government is also carrying out mass vaccination campaigns in the affected states.

“Kano, as the epicentre of this outbreak, has been at the forefront of our vaccination efforts,” said National Primary Health Care Development Agency Executive Director Dr. Faisal Shuaib. “Working with the state governments, we implemented round one and two of the vaccination campaign in five high-burden LGAs in February and April 2023.

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“Beyond Kano, we expanded our response to include Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, and Yobe in our Phase One response.