Nigeria is currently grappling with the world’s second-largest diphtheria outbreak, with 10,322 confirmed cases and 16,616 suspected cases reported since the beginning of the year. The outbreak’s epicenter is Kano State in the Northwest, which has recorded 8,447 confirmed cases and 589 deaths. The most affected states are Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Bauchi, and Kaduna, collectively accounting for 96% of all suspected cases.
Despite efforts to control the outbreak since late 2022, the disease has gradually spread to other states in the Northwest and Northeast. Children aged 1 to 14 years make up 72% of all confirmed cases, with over 60% of all suspected cases found to be unvaccinated.
The new EU funding will facilitate UNICEF and the medical NGO ALIMA’s involvement in the response by offering technical and staff support to frontline health agencies to enhance surveillance and case detection, treat cases, raise community awareness, and assist in vaccine procurement.
“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, leading to breathing difficulties and suffocation. Those most at risk are children and individuals who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease,” the release explained.
The allocation of funds by the EU is a significant step in supporting the efforts to contain the diphtheria outbreak and protect the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria.