The European Union has, In response to the significant increase in diphtheria cases recorded since the beginning of 2023 in Nigeria, released €150,000 (N75 million) in humanitarian funds to prevent the spread of the disease and assist the most affected communities in Kano, Katsina, Lagos, and Osun state.
A statement by the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS in Abuja says the funding will enable the Nigerian Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to reduce the impact of diphtheria on affected and at-risk communities through risk communication, outbreak control activities, surveillance, patient referral and hygiene promotion, and early case detection in affected areas.
It explains that the Humanitarian assistance will, directly and indirectly, target around one point five million people, focusing on vulnerable people at risk of diphtheria, those living in remote communities or hard-to-reach locations.
The statement adds that the funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund DREF of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
EU donates N75 million to avert the spread of diphtheria in Nigeria
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention NCDC had, on January 20 2023, officially declared an outbreak of diphtheria in Kano and Lagos states after several suspected cases appeared a month earlier.
The disease then spread rapidly to other states. From 136 points in the first week of 2023, the country now records 733 suspected cases, deploring 89 fatalities.
The outbreak is one of Nigeria’s most severe occurrences in recent years. Children aged between 5 and 18 years are the most vulnerable group.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted between humans. It causes a cold upper respiratory tract infection, leading to breathing difficulties and suffocation. Those most at risk are children and people who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease.
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