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UNICEF Raises Alarm Over Severe Diphtheria Outbreak in Nigeria,

UNICEF Raises Alarm Over Severe Diphtheria Outbreak in Nigeria, Urges Immediate Vaccination Response

Nigeria is grappling with an unprecedented diphtheria outbreak, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is raising a red flag, stressing the urgent need for widespread vaccination to combat this crisis.

The outbreak has already inflicted significant damage, with 11,587 suspected cases and 7,202 confirmed cases reported across 105 local government areas in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Heartbreakingly, a majority of these cases involve children, and the outbreak has claimed 453 lives, resulting in a case fatality rate of 6.3 percent.

Most affected children fall in the age range of four to 15 years and have not received a single dose of the crucial diphtheria vaccine, underscoring the pressing vaccination needs in Nigeria.

In response, UNICEF is swiftly stepping in to support the Nigerian government in its battle against the outbreak. Part of this support includes procuring vaccines to bolster the government's response. To date, UNICEF has delivered 9.3 million doses of diphtheria vaccines to affected states, including Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna, and Jigawa. Notably, four million doses have been sent to Kano, the outbreak's epicenter, with an additional four million doses in the procurement pipeline, set to be handed over to the government in the coming weeks.

However, UNICEF recognizes that more resources are needed to effectively address this crisis. They are actively working to secure an additional $3.3 million in funding by year-end.

Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative, emphasized the paramount importance of vaccination, stating, "The devastating impact of this diphtheria outbreak is a stark reminder of the critical role of vaccination. Nigeria is home to a staggering 2.2 million children who have not received a single vaccine dose, the second-largest such group globally. We must act collectively and urgently to significantly reduce this number. Every child must be shielded from preventable diseases—this is non-negotiable."

UNICEF Nigeria is calling on partners, stakeholders, and the international community to unite in ensuring that every child in Nigeria receives life-saving vaccines. Additionally, the agency underscores the vital need to reinforce routine immunization, community engagement, and healthcare systems to avert similar outbreaks in the future.



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