Cholera remains a major issue in many parts of Africa despite spirited efforts to eliminate the disease cause by bacteria, Vibrio cholerae. The World Health Organization, WHO’s work in this area was recently vitalized to reach more areas and persons with the hope that this puts the brake on the infection.
Now, no fewer than two million persons in Nigeria and four other Africa countries (including Zambia, Malawi, South Sudan, Uganda) are to receive Oral Cholera Vaccine, OCV, under the World Health Organisation, WHO, largest cholera vaccination drive. This follows a declaration in October 2017, by the WHO’s 35 Global Task Force for Cholera Control (GTFCC) partners endorsing a call to action on ending cholera, in an unprecedented engagement to fight cholera through implementation of the Global Roadmap.
Specifically, Nigeria will be getting 1.2 million doses to protect around 600,000 persons in the emerging cholera outbreak in Bauchi State, where more than 1,700 cases had been reported.
In Malawi, One million doses of cholera vaccine will protect more than 500,000 people in Lilongwe to combat an outbreak which has infected more than 900 people across the country.
60,000 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 plans to vaccinate more than 1.7 million people in the coming months. 667,100 doses of cholera vaccine are being delivered to the Lusaka, Zambia slums after a major outbreak infected over 5700 people, killing more than 100.
113,800 doses have been shipped ahead of the country’s rainy season. More than 2.6 million doses of cholera vaccine have been administered in South Sudan since 2014.
The vaccines, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, were sourced from the global stockpile. According to Ghebreyesus, oral cholera vaccines were key in the 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 7 May, 2018, many countries are facing cholera outbreaks, with at least 12 areas or countries reporting active cholera transmission in sub-Sahara Africa.
Recent developments in the use of OCVs show that the strong mobilization of countries and partners can effectively tackle the disease when tools for prevention and control are readily available,” he stated.
On his part, Chief Executive Officer, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr Seth Berkley said:
“This is an unprecedented response to a spike in cholera outbreaks 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.”
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, 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 claiming more lives.”
Cholera is a water borne disease caused by a bacteria found in unwholesome, unclean water.