UNICEF Nigeria Raises Alarm Over Unprecedented Diphtheria Outbreak, Urges Urgent Vaccination
NEW YORK (September 27, 2023) – In the midst of the most severe diphtheria outbreak in recent global history, UNICEF Nigeria is sounding the alarm about the urgent need for widespread vaccination. The outbreak 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.
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.
UNICEF is providing urgent support to the Nigerian government in its efforts to combat 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, 4 million doses have been dispatched to Kano, the epicenter of the outbreak. Another 4 million doses of vaccines are being procured and will be handed over to the government in the coming weeks.
“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”, said Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative a.i.
UNICEF Nigeria calls on partners, stakeholders, and the international community to rally together to ensure that every child in Nigeria is reached with life-saving vaccines. 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 needs to raise an additional $3.3 million until the end of the year.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world’s most vulnerable children. Together, we are working toward a world that upholds the rights of all children and helps every child thrive. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For more information please contact:
Jenna Buraczenski, UNICEF USA, (917) 720-1432, firstname.lastname@example.org