The United Nations Children’s Fund in Nigeria has called for an urgent need for mass vaccination as cases of diphtheria surge in the country.
So far, the outbreak has resulted in 11,587 suspected cases and 7,202 confirmed cases throughout 105 local government districts in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with the majority of the victims being children.
A total of 453 people have died in confirmed cases, with a case fatality rate of 6.3%.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, UNICEF stated that it was giving urgent assistance to the Nigerian government in its attempts to battle the outbreak.
“A crucial part of this support includes the procurement of vaccines to support the government’s response. So far, on behalf of the government, UNICEF has deployed 9.3 million doses of diphtheria vaccines to affected states, including Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna, and Jigawa.
“Of these, four million doses have been dispatched to Kano, the epicentre of the outbreak. Another four million doses of vaccines are being procured and will be handed over to the government in the coming weeks,” the statement read in part.
It further stated that to respond effectively to the outbreak, UNICEF Nigeria said it needed to raise an additional $3.3 million by the end of the year.
Dr. Rownak Khan, the UNICEF representative, noted that “the devastating impact of this diphtheria outbreak is a grim reminder of the importance of vaccination. Nigeria is home to a staggering 2.2 million children who haven’t received even a single dose of vaccine, the second largest in the world.
“We must collectively take urgent actions to drastically reduce this number. Every child deserves protection from preventable diseases. This is not negotiable.”