In Niger, a four-day vaccination campaign was carried out in the Zinder region (central east), the focus of the country’s first diphtheria epidemic in the last twenty years, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday Friday.

The outbreak has killed more than 200 people since it emerged in July, with 2,936 cases recorded as of Nov. 19, the WHO said.

The vaccination campaign, which was conducted by Niger’s Ministry of Health, began on November 20 in the community of Matame, Zinder region, where 48.7% of the cases are concentrated, according to the same source.

Some 1,000 health workers vaccinated nearly 300,000 children aged 0 to 14 from November 20 to 24, the WHO, part of the UN system, explained.

Diphtheria is an extremely dangerous and highly contagious infection caused by a bacterium, with the most common symptoms being laryngitis or nasopharyngitis or tonsillitis and the presence of an adherent membrane or pseudomembrane in the tissues of the throat.

Fever, swelling or swelling are also among the main symptoms, while the incubation period is 2 to 5 days.

After the July 26 military coup, Niger is under heavy economic sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO in French, ECOWAS in English).

These sanctions caused a rise in inflation and shortages of many products, including medicines.

On November 15, the UN announced it was resuming humanitarian flights to Niger, which it had suspended after the coup. This decision will in particular allow the monthly delivery of almost 2.4 tons of medical equipment.

In mid-October, the European Union announced for its part that it was setting up a humanitarian airlift to supply medicine and other medical supplies to Niger, where some 4.3 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

The diphtheria vaccination campaign cost almost €530,000: €410,000 was drawn from the WHO Emergency Fund (CFE), the remaining €120,000 from other programmes.

Neighboring Nigeria and Guinea have been recording an “unusual increase” in diphtheria cases for months, the World Health Organization said.