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2m in Nigeria, others to receive 3.34m doses of cholera vaccine

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No fewer that over two million people in Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and South Sudan are set to receive over 3,340,900 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) to prevent and contain the disease outbreak in Africa during the rainy season.

The vaccines are being used to carry out five major campaigns in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan and Nigeria. The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a statement yesterday, said the campaigns, which will be completed by mid-June, are being implemented by the respective ministries of health supported by the United Nations (UN) apex health body and partners of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), and mostly in reaction to recent cholera outbreak.

The five African campaigns are:
• 1.2 million doses will protect around 600,000 people to contain an emerging cholera outbreak in Bauchi State in Nigeria where more than 1,700 cases have been reported.
• One million doses of cholera vaccine will protect over 500,000 people in Lilongwe to combat an outbreak, which has infected more than 900 people across Malawi.
• 360,000 doses of cholera vaccine have been shipped to Uganda to protect 360,000 people in Hoima District, Western Uganda, after an outbreak in Kyangwali refugee camp hospitalised more than 900 people. The country is also now engaging in long-term cholera control planning to vaccinate over 1.7 million people in the coming months.
• 667,100 doses of cholera vaccine are being delivered as part of the second round of vaccination to the Lusaka slums after a major outbreak infected over 5,700 people, killing more than 100. Zambia is also engaging on long-term cholera control and planning vaccination in additional hotspots.
• 113,800 doses have been shipped as a preventative measure ahead of the war-torn country’s rainy season. These extra doses will complement doses remaining from previous campaigns to target Panyijiar. Over 2.6 million doses of OCV have been administered in South Sudan since 2014.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, said: “This is an unprecedented response to a spike in cholera outbreak across Africa.”We have worked hard to ensure there is now enough vaccine supply to keep the global stockpile topped up and ready for most eventualities. However, with more and more people now succumbing to this terrible, preventable disease, the need for improved water and sanitation – the only long-term, sustainable solution to cholera outbreak – has never been clearer.”

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Oral cholera vaccines are a key weapon in our fight against cholera. But there are many other things we need to do to keep people safe. WHO and our partners are saving lives every day by improving access to clean water and sanitation, establishing treatment centres, delivering supplies, distributing public health guidance, training health workers, and working with communities on prevention.”

The burden of cholera remains high in many African countries. As of May 7 many countries are facing cholera outbreaks, with at least 12 areas or countries reporting active cholera transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent developments in the use of OCVs show that the strong mobilisation of countries and partners can effectively tackle the disease when tools for prevention and control are readily available.

WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said: “Every rainy season, cholera springs up and brings devastation to communities across Africa. With this historic cholera vaccination drive, countries in the region are demonstrating their commitment to stopping cholera from claiming more lives. We need to build on this momentum through a multisectoral approach and ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, no matter where they are located.”

A resolution on cholera will be proposed by Zambia and Haiti at this month’s World Health Assembly, calling for renewed political will and an integrated approached to eliminate cholera, including investment in clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).


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