severe forms of the disease and prevents people transmitting it to others. At least two doses of the vaccine are needed to achieve a significant level of protection. Unfortunately, long production times and back-orders mean that there is currently a shortage of diphtheria vaccines worldwide. Given the situation in West Africa, MSF is calling for vaccine production to be accelerated to bring the disease under control.

“Ideally we should have vaccinated the entire Siguiri area – all ages, but especially children – as soon as the first cases appeared,” says Dr Tolno. “However, because of the shortage of vaccines available, we have had to focus on vaccinating patients and their close contacts. What we need now is the means to obtain and carry out a full-scale vaccination campaign in Siguiri to curb the disease.”

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