The states of Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Lagos, FCT, Sokoto, and Zamfara have been identified as the states with the most severely affected with Diphtheria outbreak, representing 98 per cent of the suspected cases.
Ms. Cristian Munduate, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, disclosed this in Katsina, stating that the majority of the disease’s victims were children.
As of July 2023, the United Nations agency reported 3,850 suspected cases of diphtheria in Nigeria, with 1,387 cases confirmed.
The outbreak has caused 122 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 8.7 per cent across 27 states in Nigeria.
Munduate highlighted that the affected states have 71.5 per cent of their cases occurring among children aged two to 14 years.
She said, “UNICEF Nigeria is amplifying its efforts to counter a growing outbreak of diphtheria that has affected children in 27 states. As of July 2023, 3,850 suspected cases were reported with 1,387 confirmed as diphtheria. The disease has tragically claimed 122 lives, with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 8.7 per cent.
“The outbreak has affected mainly Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Lagos, FCT, Sokoto, and Zamfara, which account for 98.0 per cent of the suspected cases.
“Most confirmed cases, approximately 71.5 per cent, have occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years.”
Munduate emphasized that a significant number of the affected children, especially those who lost their lives, had not received any vaccination, underscoring the urgent need to reach out to those who haven’t been vaccinated in the country.
Describing the situation as heartbreaking, he pointed out that only 22 per cent of the confirmed cases had received their routine childhood immunization vaccinations.
The UNICEF country representative assured their dedication to providing laboratory consumables and biosafety cabinets to facilitate the testing of suspected cases at the NCDC.
In addition, the agency will support and finance risk communication and community engagement initiatives while also transporting vaccines and related equipment to the affected states, enhancing routine immunization efforts.
Munduate emphasized that UNICEF will train health workers and volunteers to improve service delivery, risk communication, and community engagement. Furthermore, the agency will procure and supply face masks, hand sanitizers, and antibiotics for treating the disease.
UNICEF is working in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the affected states, and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to offer technical support for planning and implementing a response to the outbreak.