Posted by: africanpressorganization | 6 April 2009

European Commission provides 4.7 million Euros to fight major meningitis epidemic in Niger and Nigeria

 


 

European Commission provides 4.7 million Euros to fight major meningitis epidemic in Niger and Nigeria

 

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, April 6, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) has responded rapidly to the major meningitis epidemic affecting Nigeria and Niger by allocating a total of 4.7 million Euros (3,082,997,900.00 XOF) to support efforts to contain the epidemic and treat those affected. The epidemic has already claimed almost 1 840 lives in the region, of which 1 161 in Nigeria and 206 in Niger. As of today, the number of declared cases was estimated at more than 32 000, of which 22 429 in Nigeria and 5729 in Niger. It is feared that the situation will worsen over the next weeks as the epidemic season is just beginning. The number of cases in Nigeria and Niger are high enough for this outbreak to be considered a major epidemic.

The European Commission’s humanitarian partner organisations went into action from the early phase of the epidemic thus helping to contain the spread within a population largely unprepared to deal with such disease outbreaks.

It is estimated that over 4.6 million individuals from 2 years to 30 years old, the group most at risk, will need to be vaccinated against meningitis and to receive urgent treatment. 2.2 million of these are in Niger and 2.4 million in Nigeria. Treatment is provided regardless of age.

“Today we are confident that the early response to this meningitis epidemic will contain the spread of the outbreak and we expect that treatment will reduce the mortality levels of this deadly disease. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the situation as we are just at the beginning of the epidemic season and the number of cases will increase in the coming weeks.” says Dr Amparo Laiseca, a European Commission health specialist based in the region.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes encompassing the brain, and is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, which are transferred by direct person-to-person contact. Susceptibility to meningitis decreases with age – children and adolescents hence constituting the most vulnerable groups.

This new funding is channelled through the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. Projects are implemented through operational partners, such as non-governmental relief organisations. The European Commission has been supporting emergency operations to address outbreaks of communicable diseases throughout the world for many years. In West Africa alone, it allocated almost €10 million since 2004 to fight the spread of deadly diseases and help communities prepare themselves from new outbreaks.

 

The European Commission is one of the largest humanitarian donors in the world. Its humanitarian aid department (ECHO) has supported coordinated relief operations in more than 100 countries outside of the European Union since its establishment in 1992. Around 100 ECHO experts are permanently located in crisis zones around the world. The Commission’s humanitarian assistance goes directly to people in distress, irrespective of their nationality, religion, gender, ethnic origin, age or political affiliation.

 

SOURCE : European Commission


 


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