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Diphtheria: We Have Recorded 34 Deaths, Says NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it has recorded 34 deaths due to a diphtheria outbreak in the country.

NCDC director-general, Ifedayo Adetifa said this on Friday during a programme on Arise Television.

At least 25 persons — mostly children — died as a result of the disease outbreak in Kano.

Subsequently, the NCDC said it was monitoring and responding to cases of diphtheria in Kano, Osun, Yobe and Lagos states.

Speaking on Friday, Adetifa said diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease that was common decades ago but was forgotten due to the effectiveness of childhood vaccination programmes.

He said the resurgence of the disease suggested that there has been a critical reduction in vaccination coverage in the population.

“There have now been cases of diphtheria reported in Lagos, Kano, Yobe, and Osun states. Kano currently has the highest number of cases and this is now closely followed by Yobe state,” he said.

“At the time of the report, Kano had recorded about 25 deaths but actually in total, at this week-ending, there have been about 34 deaths in total now.

“While this is a highly preventable and a very treatable condition, without the appropriate treatment including antibiotics and diphtheria antitoxin for severely-ill cases, fatality can be high. Otherwise, with early detection and prompt institution of the right treatment, the outcomes are typically very good.”

The director-general said the disease is easy to treat and responds very well to relatively cheap and commonly available antibiotics.

“The problem is for the severe cases that require something called diphtheria antitoxin,” he added.

“The NCDC has prepositioned diphtheria antitoxin in the first two states where cases were reported. We have actually shared viles of diphtheria antitoxins in December last year for use in Lagos and Kano states.

“We are also planning to extend it to every state where cases were found.”

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Health

Malawi Cholera Outbreak Claims Over 1000 Lives

Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda has revealed that despite hospitalization numbers reaching 30, 621, Malawi’s deadliest cholera outbreak on record has killed over 1,000 people.

According to the World Health Organization, the death toll on Tuesday eclipsed the biggest documented outbreak, which killed 968 people between 2001 and 2002. (WHO).

Chiponda urged people to exercise extreme caution when handling the bodies of cholera victims before funerals.

“People who are dying from cholera may be washed by family members who then prepare funeral feasts… outbreaks of cholera commonly follow these feasts,” the minister said on Wednesday.

She urged people to use proper disinfection methods such as chlorine and plastic body bags.

The majority of the deaths happened in the two main cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre, where students had recently returned to school after schools were closed to try to contain the spread.

Cholera strikes the southern African country on a regular basis during the rainy season, from November to March, with deaths often hovering around 100.

However, pollution levels were unusually high during and after the holiday season in 2022.

Malawi got over three million doses of oral cholera vaccine from the UN in November 2022 to boost its immunization program, but case numbers continue to grow.

Adrian Chikumbe, a spokesman for the health ministry, told AFP that all dosages had been utilized.

He went on to say that “the fact that there is only one cholera vaccine manufacturer worldwide makes acquiring the life-saving medicine tough,” fostering rivalry between countries in need.

Cholera, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is caused by a bacterium that is usually spread by contaminated food or water.

According to George Jobe, director of the organization Malawi Health Equity Network, falsehoods and disinformation flowing online are exacerbating an already terrible situation.

“Most people don’t believe we have cholera,” he told AFP. Additionally, “some religions do not permit their [sick] members to go to the hospital”.

(Al Jazeera)

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Health

“Fast With Common Sense Or Pay With Your Kidneys”, NAFDAC Boss Cautions Nigerians

The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has cautioned Nigerians against excessive fasting, saying it can cause kidney problems.

Speaking on Monday at a media briefing in Abuja, Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC director-general, advised Nigerians to fast “with common sense”.

“We are a very religious country – Muslims and Christians, we fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem. Your body has to have homeostatic balance, meaning the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs function,” she said.

“Some people will fast for 20 days or 10 days without drinking even a little bit of water and the kidney is being punished and it can damage your kidney because the kidney does not have water to dilute and filter, that is what some of us do.

“I fast but I fast with common sense. You have to fast with common sense or else you pay with your kidney.”

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Global Vaccination Plan, Panacea For Pandemic- UN Chief

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General  says the only way out of COVID-19 pandemic and out of unjustly distribution of vaccines is through a global vaccination plan.

Guterres spoke to a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Group of 77 developing nations (G77) and China on Tuesday at UN headquarters, New York.

According to him, pandemic continues to wreak havoc on developed and developing countries alike.

He said that the UN backed the vaccination strategy set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The goal of the vaccination strategy is to get vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by the middle of 2022.

“Everyone, everywhere, must have access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment,” the secretary-general said, asking for support for the ACT-accelerator and the COVAX facility.

Guterres also warned that the world economy is projected to grow by 5.9 per cent in 2021 but the pace of recovery, according to him, is extremely uneven.

For him, this is not surprising, when developed economies are investing 28 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product in recovery, middle-income countries are investing 6.5 per cent, and the least developed nations are investing just 1.8 per cent.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years will be 75 per cent less than the rest of the world.

“This dangerous divergence threatens to widen as growth rates are expected to decrease in 2022. Rising inflation could also have a negative impact on the cost of borrowing and servicing debt,” he warned.

The UN chief also addressed the climate crisis, unsustainable levels of inequality, and the development of new technologies, asking for “a quantum leap in unity and solidarity to make collective decisions” on these global challenges.

On multilateralism and the importance of the United Nations, the secretary-general stressed the role of the organisation during the pandemic.

UN Country Teams rolled out socio-economic response plans covering 139 countries and territories. More than US$3 billion was repurposed, and an additional US$2 billion was mobilised to prioritise immediate support.

For Guterres, it was recent reforms that enabled the organisation to adjust and respond quickly.

“As a result, more than 90 per cent of host governments have indicated that the United Nations today is more relevant to their country’s development needs when compared to three years ago,” he said.

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