The European Union (EU) has released €1,000,000 (about N847 million) in humanitarian funding to fight the spread of diphtheria disease and assist the most affected communities.
According to a statement, on Tuesday, this latest funding was 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 in an effort to help control the epidemic.
The statement said this new EU funding would enable UNICEF and the medical NGO ALIMA to contribute to the response by providing technical and staff members’ support to frontline health agencies to enhance surveillance and case detection, treatment of cases, community awareness raising, and to assist with the procurement of vaccines.
Nigeria is 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.
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.
According to the statement, this funding is part of the EU’s Epidemics tool, created to provide rapid funding in case of a disease outbreak. 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. Those most at risk are children and people who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease.
The European Union, together with its Member States, is the leading donor of humanitarian aid in the world. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
The European Union, through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department, helps millions of victims of conflicts and disasters every year. Through its headquarters in Brussels and its global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people based on humanitarian need alone.