About 600,000 people will be given oral cholera vaccine (OCV) in Bauchi State, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
In a press statement issued on Monday, the international health partner said the exercise, which will be completed by mid-June, is part of a campaign that will be the largest cholera vaccination drive in history.
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.
According to WHO, the vaccination exercise was prompted by the series of cholera outbreak across Africa.
Funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the vaccines were sourced from the global stockpile.
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.
According to WHO, 1.2 million doses will be used to protect around 600,000 to contain the cholera outbreak in Bauchi State, where more than 1700 cases have been reported.
WHO said in the 15 years between 1997 and 2012, just 1.5 million doses of cholera vaccines were used worldwide.
“In 2017 alone almost 11 million were used, from Sierra Leone to Somalia to Bangladesh. In the first four months of 2018 over 15 million doses have already been approved for use worldwide,” it said.
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi said the campaign 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. 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 outbreaks – has never been clearer,” he said.
Speaking on the campaign, Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, 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,” he said.
Cholera however remains a high burden in many African countries.
WHO said 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.”
The WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, 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.”
Oral Cholera Vaccine is recommended to be given in two doses. The first gives protection for six months, the second for three to five years.
WHO said all five campaigns should have completed their second round of vaccinations by mid-June.
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