The European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS on Tuesday allocated the sum of one million euros (N847 million) for the fight against diphtheria outbreak in the Northeast and Northwest region of Nigeria.
The bloc, in a bid to respond to the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria, donated the funds to help in curbing the spread of the disease and assisting the most affected communities.
The bloc made the commitment in a statement signed by the EU Embassy in Abuja, saying the EU humanitarian contribution’s aim was to fight epidemics and climate challenges amongst others to the tune of 34 million euros in June 2023.
According to the statement, this fund is in addition to the 150,000 Euros earlier 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.
This new EU funding will enable UNICEF and the medical NGO, ALIMA, to provide technical and staff 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 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 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 per cent of all suspected cases.
“In spite of control efforts since the start of the outbreak in late 2022, the disease has gradually spread to other states in Northwest and Northeast regions.
“Children aged 1 to 14 years are the most affected and they represent 72 per cent of all confirmed cases. Analysis of the vaccination status reveals that over 60 per cent of all suspected cases have not been vaccinated.
“The funding is part of 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, and 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,” it stated.
The embassy statement also indicated that the EU, 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 said.
It aims to save lives, prevents and alleviates human suffering and safeguards the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
The EU, 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 needs alone.