Home NEWS Local News WHO publishes first-ever guidance on the clinical management of diphtheria

WHO publishes first-ever guidance on the clinical management of diphtheria

The World Health organisation has published the first-ever guidance on the clinical management of diphtheria.

The only previously available guidance was an operational protocol with the new guidance following a rigorous process for developing guidance at WHO.

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The new guidelines address the use of Diphtheria Antitoxin (DAT) in the treatment of diphtheria with WHO saying that there has been a worldwide shortage of DAT and evidence based recommendations on the use of DAT were requested by many Member States.

The guidance also includes new recommendations on antibiotics.

In patients with suspected or confirmed diphtheria, WHO recommends using macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, erythromycin) rather than penicillin antibiotics.

According to WHO, the clinical practice guideline has been rapidly developed recognizing the global increase in diphtheria outbreaks.

“Outbreaks of diphtheria in Nigeria, Guinea and neighbouring countries in 2023 have highlighted the urgent need for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of diphtheria.” Observes a statement from WHO.

WHO says given the sporadic nature of outbreaks, many clinicians in the affected regions have never managed acute diphtheria and its related complications.

Diphtheria remains a neglected disease and vaccination is the top priority with access to antibiotics, DAT and supportive care for patients with diphtheria  proving lifesaving.



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