Nigeria: EU Announces N32m Humanitarian Aid to Fight Lassa Fever Outbreak

(file photo).
21 February 2020

The European Union (EU), has announced the allocation of €80,000 (N32 million) in humanitarian funding to assist in the fight to eradicate Lassa fever in Nigeria.

This is coming as the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, has urged politicians to show restraints in their quest for power.

Besides, the fund is expected to assist families affected by the current Lassa Fever outbreak in Nigeria. The EU funds will go towards supporting the Nigerian Red Cross in promoting hygienic practices and disease transmission control, contributing to the identification of suspected cases, supporting contact tracing, and providing psychosocial support.

The humanitarian gesture which was announced through a press statement issued by the Press Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Mr. Modestus Chukwulaka, will directly benefit communities in areas most affected by the outbreak.

The fund, the statement further stated forms 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 (IFRC).

The statement further read: "In the two most affected states, Ondo and Edo, the main actions will focus on health education on signs and symptoms, prevention measure and behavioral change in food storage and handling; pest control activities, such as the distribution of rat traps/rat glues; and psychosocial support to affected people and their families.

"In another four states (Bauchi, Ebonyi, Taraba and Kano), awareness raising initiatives will be launched for the general public, including the distribution of educational material and informative radio messages.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), transmitted by rodents to humans, who become infected through contact with the excreta of infected rats, contaminated surfaces or food, and body fluids of infected persons.

While about 80% of the infections go with no symptoms, the remaining patients develop severe multi-system disease, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Since the first week of January 2020, more than 680 suspected cases have been reported by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), of which over 250 were confirmed as positive. While Nigeria is prone to Lassa fever outbreaks during the dry season (November to April), the number of affected people (suspected and confirmed) this year is higher than in previous years.

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Meanwhile, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, has urged politicians to show restraints in their quest for power.

Karlsen gave the advice yesterday in Benin City during a visit to the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih, and leaders of the party.

He also appealed for peace and non-violence in the forthcoming Edo governorship election, adding that the EU was also meeting with other political parties on the same message.

He advocated collaborative effort in order to amend the electoral law and pledged EU's willingness to support the process.

He explained that the EU has over 3,000 projects across the Niger Delta and was partnering with Edo Government on many projects.

Karlsen also noted the role of the EU in the repatriation of youths trapped along illegal migrants routes and rehabilitating them to cut the illegal trade.

The ambassador emphasised the importance of the opposition in democratic consolidation.

He disclosed that since the restoration of democracy in 1999, the EU had spent more than 100 million Euros to support various democratic institutions.

Karlsen listed such institutions as INEC, political parties, Civil Society and Media, including deploying hundreds of long and short term observers and giving recommendations on the electoral processes.

He noted that the EU would remain impartial in its operations and urged parties and politicians to allow for transparent primaries, more participation by women and the youth, as well as to desist from hate speech.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that discussion also centered on politics, judiciary, illegal migration and women trafficking as well as the role EU in the political and economic development of Nigeria.

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