The United Nations says it needs $9.9 million (that’s around N3.5 billion) to respond to the ongoing cholera outbreak in Borno state and prevent further outbreaks in high-risk areas.

The amount is roughly same as the federal government released to fund a nationwide measles vaccination slated to start October 26.

The UN response-and-prevention plan hopes to address immediate needs for 3.7 million people who could be affected by the outbreak.

The outbreak has hit hardest on camps for people displaced by Boko Haram violence in the northeast.

“The clock is ticking,” said Peter Lundberg, the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria.

“The camps for displaced persons are congested; there is not enough water, sanitation facilities are poor, and the health care system is weak. We must tackle this urgently to avoid preventable suffering and loss of life.”

Some 44 people have been killed since the first case was identified on August 16.

At least 2,300 cases of cholera have been either suspected or confirmed.

Response plan already ongoing to support Borno manage the outbreak has set up four specialized treatment centres for the most severe cases and seven oral rehydration points (for the milder cases) in all three affected areas.

Teams of community mobilizers and chlorine sprayers have been going from shelter to shelter, informing families of the risk of infection and how to get treatment should symptoms arise.

The plan also involves monitoring and tracking new potential cases, improving sanitation and access to clean water and a possible vaccination campaign.

“We need a holistic and comprehensive response to this outbreak and a clear prevention strategy,” Mr. Lundberg added.

“The implications of not responding in a timely manner could be absolutely devastating for millions of conflict-affected women, children and men who are already living in very dire conditions.”

The UN says the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east is one of the most severe in the world today, with 8.5 million people in need of life-saving aid in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, out of whom 6.9 million are targeted for humanitarian assistance.