Diphtheria: MSF seeks longer-term vaccination 

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An international medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors without Borders, said Nigeria is currently experiencing an unprecedented diphtheria outbreak, with about 17,000 suspected cases and close to 600 deaths recorded. The organisation, in a statement on Tuesday, noted that 70 per cent of the patients admitted in its facilities in Kano State were not fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all.

READ ALSO:Nigerian government to develop national diphtheria laboratory

Calling for sustained vaccination, the body said, “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, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, or Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 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 noted that “a vaccination campaign organised by the authorities, World Health Organisation, and UNICEF has started and will be carried out in three 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 per cent 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 is of high concern, ranging from six per cent in Sokoto to 10 per cent in Zamfara and 18 per cent in Katsina, against a national average of 36 per cent. In the North-East the coverage is seemingly alarming, as only 15 per cent of the patients treated for diphtheria in our MSF facility in Gwange Paediatric Hospital in Maiduguri were fully vaccinated,” it added.




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