In a concerted effort to address the escalating diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria, the European Union (EU) has released €1,000,000 (N847 million) in humanitarian funding. This financial support aims to curb the spread of the disease and provide assistance to the most affected communities.
The EU’s commitment comes on the heels of a press statement released on Tuesday, highlighting the severity of the situation. In addition to the recent funding, the EU had previously allocated €150,000 to the Disaster Response Emergency Fund of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in March 2023, focusing on epidemic control.
Nigeria is currently grappling with the world’s second-largest diphtheria outbreak, with a staggering 10,322 confirmed and 16,616 suspected cases reported since the beginning of the year. The epicenter of the outbreak is identified in Kano State, Northwest Nigeria, where 8,447 confirmed cases and 589 deaths have been recorded. The most affected states, including Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Bauchi, and Kaduna, collectively account for 96 percent of all suspected cases.
Despite efforts to control the outbreak since late 2022, the disease has continued to spread, reaching other states in the Northwest and Northeast regions. Alarming statistics reveal that children aged 1 to 14 years represent 72 percent of all confirmed cases, with over 60 percent of suspected cases having no vaccination history.
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The newly allocated EU funding will play a crucial role in supporting UNICEF and the medical NGO ALIMA. These organizations will contribute to the response by providing technical expertise and staff support to frontline health agencies. The funds will enhance surveillance and case detection, facilitate the treatment of cases, raise community awareness, and assist in procuring vaccines.
This financial aid is part of the EU’s Epidemics tool, designed to provide rapid funding in the event of disease outbreaks. Diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted between humans, affects the upper respiratory tract and can lead to breathing difficulties and suffocation. The most vulnerable groups are children and individuals who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease.
The EU’s swift response underscores the global community’s commitment to addressing public health emergencies and working collaboratively to protect vulnerable populations from the impact of infectious diseases.
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