Diphtheria: Only 22% children confirmed with disease immunised – UNICEF representative


UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria, Ms Cristian Munduate, has lamented that only 22 per cent of children confirmed with diphtheria received their routine childhood immunisations in the affected states.

Cristian, in a statement made available to newsmen today, emphasised the pressing need to reach children who had missed out on their vaccines due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Many children did not receive their vaccines during the COVID-19 lockdown. We now urgently need to catch up. These ‘zero-dose’ children, those who haven’t received a single dose of vaccine, are a primary concern,” she said.

She observed that the disease has tragically claimed 122 lives, with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 8.7 per cent, adding that of the most confirmed cases, approximately 71.5 per cent, have occurred among children aged 2 to 14 years in mainly Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Lagos, Sokoto, Zamfara, and the FCT, which account for 98.0 per cent of the suspected cases.

Bemoaning the development, the UNICEF representative in Nigeria noted: “As of July 2023, 3,850 suspected cases were reported, with 1,387 confirmed as diphtheria.

“It’s heartbreaking to note that only 22 per cent of the confirmed cases received their routine childhood immunisations.

“Most of these affected children, especially those who unfortunately passed away, had not received a single dose of the vaccine. The need to reach the unreached has never been more critical.”

Mauduate further disclosed that in response to the outbreak, UNICEF is closely collaborating with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the affected states, and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in providing technical support to plan and operationalise the response that affected children in about 27 states.

She then called on parents and guardians to ensure their children receive routine immunisations to protect them from preventable diseases like diphtheria.

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