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Diphtheria Outbreak Ravaging Nigeria – A Plea for Immediate Global Attention and Support – Nigeria

Diphtheria Outbreak Ravaging Nigeria – A Plea for Immediate Global Attention and Support – Nigeria


Nigeria is currently grappling with a devastating outbreak of Diphtheria, with over 15,000 suspected cases, 9,772 confirmed cases, and 530 fatalities reported as of October 25, 2023. The situation has worsened dramatically since July 2023, with over 1,000 new cases emerging every week.

Key Highlights

  • Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria, primarily affecting children aged 0-14.

  • Kano state, the epicentre of the crisis, has reported over 80% of the cases.

  • 32 out of 36 Nigerian states are affected due to low active case finding, contact tracing, and vaccination rates.

  • Some states have a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) exceeding 5.6%, indicating a critical lack of response capacity.

  • The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has scaled up its Emergency Appeal, expanding the Nigeria Red Cross Society’s (NRCS) activities from 6 to 12 states.

  • An urgent need for 5.4 million CHF (USD 5.978 million) to support the NRCS in scaling up its response.

Why This Matters

Nigeria’s Diphtheria outbreak is not just a collection of statistics. It is a devastating crisis that has families mourning the loss of their loved ones and communities in despair. Children, especially those aged 0-14, are bearing the brunt of this terrifying disease. Kano state, with over 80% of cases, is facing an overwhelming crisis. The outbreak has now spread to 32 states [AA1] , and in many areas, the lack of active case finding, contact tracing, and vaccinations has resulted in a heartbreaking 20%+ fatality rate.

Immediate Action Required

The Nigerian government has requested the NRCS to expand its response to cover 12 states, up from the initial 6. Under this directive, NRCS plans to intensify routine immunization, facilitate Reactive Vaccination, enhance Risk Communication and Community Engagement efforts, conduct awareness campaigns, and deploy additional volunteers and vaccination teams. It will also address Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages to ensure the safety of healthcare workers.

Nigeria Red Cross Response Highlights

  • 4,966,680 individuals reached via Public Health prevention, Risk Communication and Community Engagement activities.

  • 760 volunteers trained in Public Health and Risk Communication for Diphtheria prevention.

  • 922,334 people mobilized for vaccination through 120 trained teams.

  • 1,915 suspected cases detected and referred to health facilities by NRCS volunteers.

The Nigerian Red Cross is committed to providing much-needed humanitarian assistance to the most affected communities. Its response efforts aim to intensify routine immunization, facilitate Reactive Vaccination, enhance Risk Communication and Community Engagement, conduct awareness campaigns, and deploy additional volunteers and vaccination teams. Furthermore, addressing Personal Protective Equipment shortages is a top priority to ensure the safety of healthcare workers.




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