The Australian Government is providing further support to combat the outbreak of highly contagious and deadly diphtheria amongst Rohingya in Bangladesh who have fled violence in Myanmar.

There have been more than 2,500 cases of suspected diphtheria, including 1,900 children, in camps accommodating Rohingya. At least 30 people have died from the disease, which causes extreme swelling of the throat making it difficult to breathe and swallow.

Australia is providing $1.5 million to the International Organisation for Migration to supply life-saving medicine, help quarantine the sick, train local medical staff, and boost community awareness activities aimed at reducing infection rates.

This follows the deployment of an Australian medical team to Bangladesh in December to assess the situation, in response to a request for urgent international assistance by the World Health Organization.

It brings Australia’s support for Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to $31.5 million since September 2017. An estimated 655,000 people, mostly women and children, have crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 2017, and are dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival.

Australia’s assistance is supporting the provision of life-saving food and nutrition, clean water, sanitation, shelter, health care, trauma counselling and services for vulnerable women and girls.

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