EU earmarks €1 million to help Nigeria curb diphtheria

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European Union
European Union

The European Union (EU) has allocated 1 million euros to help Nigeria fight against diphtheria, the EU delegation to the most populous African country said.

The donation was to help Nigeria restrain the outbreak of the disease, particularly in curbing the spread in the most affected communities in the northern part of the country, the EU delegation to Nigeria said in a statement.

Once thought to be under control, diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects a person’s nose, throat, and, sometimes, skin, is resurging in Nigeria. At least 19 Nigerian states out of the 36, including the Federal Capital Territory, are battling the disease.

“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,” the EU statement said.

The northwestern state of Kano is the epicenter of the outbreak, with over 8,447 confirmed cases and 589 deaths so far in that state alone, the EU said, noting six northern states collectively account for 96 percent of all suspected cases.

Last month, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control confirmed that over 600 people were killed by the disease, which can be curbed through vaccination.

“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 regions. Children aged 1 to 14 years represent 72 percent of all confirmed cases,” the EU said.

Analysis of the vaccination status showed that over 60 percent of all suspected cases had not been vaccinated, the statement added.

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