by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE has launched an oral cholera vaccination campaign to protect 1,4 million people at high risk in the capital Harare.
The campaign following the death of dozens of people is with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners.
The vaccines were sourced from the global stockpile, which is funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Gavi is also funding operational costs for the campaign.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said the current cholera outbreak was geographically concentrated in the densely populated suburbs of Harare.
“We have a window of opportunity to strike back with the oral cholera vaccine now, which along with other efforts will help keep the current outbreak in check and may prevent it from spreading further into the country and becoming more difficult to control,” Moeti said.
The campaign will be rolled out in two rounds, focusing on the most heavily affected suburbs in Harare and Chitungwiza, which is 30 km southeast of the capital city. To ensure longer-term immunity to the population, a second dose of the vaccine will be provided in all areas during a second round to be implemented at a later stage.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said Gavi has worked hard to ensure the global cholera vaccine stockpile remains fully stocked and ready to help stop outbreaks.
“Cholera is a disease that can be prevented with clean water and sanitation: there is no reason why people should still be dying from this horrific disease,” Berkley said.
WHO experts in collaboration with partners are supporting the national authorities to intensify surveillance activities, improve diagnostics and strengthen infection and prevention control in communities and health facilities. They have also provided cholera supplies of oral rehydration salts, intravenous fluids and antibiotics sufficient to treat 6000 people.
Zimbabwe has experienced frequent outbreaks of cholera, with the largest outbreak occurring from August 2008 to May 2009 and claiming more than 4 000 lives.
– CAJ News