Nigeria, where the first patients were confirmed with diphtheria in December 2022, is experiencing the largest outbreak, with almost 17,000 suspected cases recorded so far. But it’s far from the only country facing the disease: Algeria, Guinea, Mauritania, and Niger have also reported diphtheria cases. Medical teams from MSF in several other West African countries have also seen patients with symptoms that are characteristic of the disease.
Protection against diphtheria, a potentially deadly bacterial infection, is normally offered through routine vaccination programs. However, in many countries routine vaccination programs have suffered greatly from underfunding and de-prioritisation.