By Vincess Okushi

The European Union (EU) has released a total of €1,000,000 (N847 million) as humanitarian funding to fight the spread of diphtheria disease, especially in the most affected communities.

A statement by the EU on 21st November 2023 said the fund is to respond to the unprecedented diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria,

According to the statement,

THIS COMES IN ADDITION TO €150,000 WHICH THE EU ALLOCATED TO THE DISASTER RESPONSE EMERGENCY FUND (DREF) OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES (IFRC) IN MARCH 2023 TO HELP CONTROL THE EPIDEMIC. 

THIS NEW EU FUNDING WILL ENABLE UNICEF AND THE MEDICAL NGO ALIMA TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE RESPONSE BY PROVIDING TECHNICAL AND STAFF SUPPORT TO FRONTLINE HEALTH AGENCIES TO ENHANCE SURVEILLANCE AND CASE DETECTION, TREATMENT OF CASES, COMMUNITY AWARENESS RAISING, AND ASSIST WITH THE PROCUREMENT OF VACCINES.

It noted that Nigeria is currently facing the world’s second-largest diphtheria outbreak with 10,322 confirmed and 16,616 suspected cases since the beginning of the year.

 

KANO STATE IN THE NORTHWEST REPRESENTS THE OUTBREAK’S EPICENTRE WITH 8,447 CONFIRMED CASES AND 589 DEATHS.
THE MOST AFFECTED STATES ARE KANO, YOBE, KATSINA, BORNO, BAUCHI, AND KADUNA WHICH COLLECTIVELY ACCOUNT FOR 96% OF ALL SUSPECTED CASES. 

The statement however laments the gradual spread of the disease to other states despite control efforts since the start of the outbreak in late 2022.

The disease has gradually spread to other states in the Northwest and Northeast. Children aged 1 to 14 years represent 72% of all confirmed cases. Analysis of the vaccination status reveals that over 60% of all suspected cases have not been vaccinated.

It was revealed that the funding is part of the EU’s Epidemics tool, created to provide rapid funding in case of a disease outbreak.
However, Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted between humans. It causes an infection of the upper respiratory tract, which can lead to breathing difficulties and suffocation as children and people who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease are most at risk of the disease.

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