Diphtheria Outbreak: UNICEF Deploys 9.3 Million Doses of Vaccines in Nigeria
By Victor Habila, Kano
In a bid to support the Nigerian government in curtailing the incessant spread of diphtheria in some states, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has donated no fewer than 9.3 million doses of diphtheria vaccines to save the lives of the affected children.
In a statement Made available to journalist by its Communication and Advocacy Specialist, in Kano Field Office, Samuel Kaalu, UNICEF expressed concerns on how the numbers of the affected children keeps increasing on a daily basis.
The outbreak, according to the organization has so far resulted in over 11,500 suspected cases, more than 7,000 confirmed cases, and claimed the lives of 453 people, mostly children.
UNICEF said most cases are children aged between 4 to 15 years who have not received even a single dose of the vital vaccine, laying bare the urgency of the vaccination situation in Nigeria.
“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, 4 million doses have been dispatched to Kano, the epicentre of the outbreak. Another 4 million doses of vaccines are being procured and will be handed over to government in the coming weeks”, according to the statement.
In the midst of the most severe diphtheria outbreak in recent global history, UNICEF Nigeria called for the urgent need for widespread vaccination across various states in the country.
In his reaction, the UNICEF country representative in Nigeria, Dr. Rownak Khan, mentioned 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 such cohort 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”.
UNICEF Nigeria called on partners, stakeholders, and the international community to rally together to ensure that every child in Nigeria is reached with life-saving vaccines.
It stressed that the children’s agency emphasizes the importance of strengthening routine immunization, community engagement, and health systems to avoid similar outbreaks in the future.
To respond effectively to the outbreak, UNICEF Nigeria revealed that it would need to raise an additional US$ 3.3 million until the end of the year.