Ahumanitarian group, Save the Children International (SCI), has said it was launching a wide-scale health response against diphtheria in the three most impacted states of Kano, Yobe and Katsina.
It noted that its Emergency Health Unit was deploying expert health and supply chain staff to help over-stretched clinics to detect and treat diphtheria cases and to support with mass vaccination campaigns across the worst hit areas.
SCI in a statement issued Friday by its Interim Country Director, Faton Krasniqi, said prior to the pandemic, Nigeria already had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, with efforts to strengthen routine immunisation coverage and reduce under-five mortality having limited success.
Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease that has largely been eradicated across the world, although periodic outbreaks happen in places where large groups of children have missed this routine vaccination, such as the disruptions to vaccinations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal without treatment.
Nigeria has recorded 7,202 cases of diphtheria and 430 deaths since the outbreak started in May 2022.
The statement said: “There have been 453 deaths confirmed since the outbreak started in May 2022, with most cases recorded in the past three months.