By Ebi Kesiena
Responding to the alarming diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria, the European Union (EU) has earmarked €1,000,000, N847 million in humanitarian funding to curb the spread of the disease and aid the most affected communities.
This allocation supplements the €150,000 previously granted to the Disaster Response Emergency Fund, DREF of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC in March 2023 to support epidemic control efforts.
In a statement on Tuesday by Mr Modestus Chukwulaka, Press Officer, EU Delegation to Nigeria explained that the newly released EU funding will empower UNICEF to contribute to the response by providing technical expertise and staff support to frontline health agencies.
Their focus includes enhancing surveillance and case detection, treating cases, raising community awareness, and aiding in the procurement of vaccines.
‘’Nigeria is grappling with the world’s second-largest diphtheria outbreak, reporting 10,322 confirmed and 16,616 suspected cases since the year’s onset. Kano State in the Northwest is the epicenter, reporting 8,447 confirmed cases and 589 deaths. The most affected states, collectively accounting for 96% of all suspected cases, are Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Bauchi, and Kaduna.
‘’Despite control efforts initiated in late 2022, the disease has spread to other states in the Northwest and Northeast. Children aged 1 to 14 years comprise 72% of all confirmed cases, with over 60% of suspected cases revealing no vaccination history’’
Furthermore, the statement notes that this funding is part of the EU’s Epidemics tool, designed to provide swift financial support in the event of a disease outbreak.
‘’Diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection, primarily spreads between humans, causing upper respiratory tract infections that can lead to breathing difficulties and suffocation. Those at greatest risk include children and individuals not fully vaccinated against the disease’’
The European Union, along with its Member States, stands as the primary donor of global humanitarian aid, exemplifying European solidarity toward those in need worldwide. The relief assistance seeks to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and uphold the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and crises.
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