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Outbreak: Nigeria reported 17,000 cases, 600 deaths of Diptheria

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Outbreak: Nigeria reported 17,000 cases, 600 deaths of Diptheria

By: Our Reporter

Nigeria is currently experiencing an unprecedented diphtheria outbreak, with around 17.000 suspected cases and close to 600 deaths recorded.

A vaccination campaign organized by the authorities, World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF has started and will be carried out in 3 phases across 14 states: Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Lagos, Nasarawa, Osun, Plateau, Zamfara.

In Kano state, where almost 12.000 suspected cases have been reported, around 70% of the patients admitted in MSF facilities were not fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all, showing the alarmingly low vaccination coverage.

In the North-West, full vaccination coverage are of high concern, ranging from 6% in Sokoto to 10% in Zamfara and 18% in Katsina, against a national average of 36%. In North-East the coverage is seemingly alarming, as only 15% of the patients treated for diphtheria in our MSF facility in Gwange Paediatric Hospital in Maiduguri were fully vaccinated.

While Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams encourage the efforts from international and national bodies, ‘we wish to continue calling and urging for long term plans of routine immunization across the different states and local government areas of Nigeria to reach a maximum of children. It is the only lasting solution to curb and prevent future outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles, polio, or tetanus that are responsible for numerous deaths every year.

“We encourage donor countries and institutions like GAVI, ECHO or Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to invest in vaccination both on the short term to curb ongoing outbreaks but mostly through a long-term plan to increase the country’s vaccination coverage, but also regionally as cases of diphtheria are being reported in neighboring countries. ” MSF said.

In Kano, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has responded to the diphtheria outbreak since early 2023 and currently supports two diphtheria treatment centers with a total capacity of 146 beds. Medical teams also implement a decentralized strategy in collaboration with the authorities supporting other hospitals and health facilities across different LGAs and through health promotion activities to raise awareness among the population.

In Maiduguri, Borno state, the teams have added a 20-bed diphtheria treatment clinic in the pediatric hospital in Gwange and treated 448 patients. In Bauchi state, a diphtheria treatment center was set up with 20 beds capacity at Ganjuwa hospital and 173 patients were treated. MSF continuously supports the Ministry of Health and international organizations to push for vaccination campaigns across the different states.

Outbreak: Nigeria reported 17,000 cases, 600 deaths of Diptheria

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