The United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) has deployed 9.3 million doses of diphtheria vaccines to affected states in Nigeria following the most severe diphtheria outbreak in recent global history.
A statement by UNICEF communication assistant, Nchekwube Nwosu-Igbo, said the doses were deployed to Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa States.
The statement added that four million doses were dispatched to Kano, the epicentre of the outbreak.
According to the statement, “Another four million doses were being procured and would be handed over to the government in the coming weeks.”
The outbreak, according to the statement, has so far resulted in over 11,500 suspected cases, claiming 453 lives with more than 7,000 confirmed cases, mostly children.
It explained that 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.
According to the statement, UNICEF is providing urgent support to the Nigerian government in its efforts to combat the outbreak, saying that a crucial part of the support includes the procurement of vaccines to support the government’s response.
“The devastating impact of the diphtheria outbreak, according to the statement, is a grim reminder of the importance of vaccination, stressing that Nigeria is home to a staggering 2.2 million children who haven’t received even a single dose of the vaccine – the second largest of such in the world.
UNICEF, the statement emphasized, has taken urgent actions to drastically reduce the number, pointing out that every child deserves protection from preventable diseases.