Francesca Iwambe – Abuja
In an effort to rapidly contain the resurgence of cholera outbreak in Nigeria, the World Health Organisation, (WHO) has said that it has secured oral cholera vaccine, (OCV) to vaccinate about 600,000 people in Bauchi State.
The vaccines are being used to carry out five major campaigns in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan and Nigeria.
According to the WHO, 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.
While revealing that the vaccination exercise which will be the largest cholera vaccination drive in history of Africa, the international health partner said that the move was prompted by the series of cholera outbreak across Africa.
More than two million people in five African countries are expected to participate in the campaign. The other countries are Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, and South Sudan.
The WHO further revealed that about 1.2 million doses will be used to protect around 600,000 people to contain the cholera outbreak in Bauchi State, where more than 1700 cases have been reported.
CEO of Gav, Seth Berkley, said that the campaign is an unprecedented response to a spike in cholera outbreaks across Africa. “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.”
On his part, the 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’’ he stated.
The campaign is being implemented by the respective Ministries of Health supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), and mostly in reaction to recent cholera outbreaks.