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HomeHealth & FitnessMSF seeks longer-term vaccination as Nigeria records 17,000 diphteria

MSF seeks longer-term vaccination as Nigeria records 17,000 diphteria

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 percent of the patients admitted in its facilities in Kano state were not fully vaccinated or vaccinated.

“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 percent 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 percent in Sokoto to 10 percent in Zamfara and 18 percent in Katsina, against a national average of 36 percent. In North-East the coverage is seemingly alarming, as only 15 percent of the patients treated for diphtheria in our MSF facility in Gwange Paediatric Hospital in Maiduguri were fully vaccinated,” the statement read in part.

While encouraging efforts from international and national bodies, MSF calls for long-term plans of routine immunisation across the different states and local government areas of Nigeria to reach a maximum of children.

“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.

“In Kano, MSF has responded to the diphtheria outbreak since early 2023 and currently supports two diphtheria treatment centres with a total capacity of 146 beds. Medical teams also implement a decentralised strategy in collaboration with the authorities supporting other hospitals and health facilities across different LGAs and through health promotion activities to raise awareness among the population.

“In Maiduguri, Borno state, the teams have added a 20-bed diphtheria treatment clinic in the pediatric hospital in Gwange and treated 448 patients. In Bauchi state, a diphtheria treatment center was set up with 20 beds capacity at Ganjuwa hospital and 173 patients were treated. MSF continuously supports the Ministry of Health and international organizations to push for vaccination campaigns across the different states,” it added.

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