Cholera vaccination begins

THE nationwide cholera vaccination campaign kicks off tomorrow, with the initial phase targeting four severely affected districts in three provinces.

The initial phase of the campaign will prioritise Kuwadzana and Glen View in Harare, Chiredzi in Masvingo province, and Buhera in Manicaland province, identified as hotspots with the highest number of reported cases.

On Friday, Government took delivery of a consignment of 892 000 Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) from the International Coordinating Group (ICG), while an equal number of the vaccines is set to be delivered within the next 10 days.

Zimbabwe is presently battling a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed 71 lives, while more than 350 others are suspected to have succumbed to the water-borne disease.

As of January 26, Zimbabwe had reported 20 951 cholera cases and 2 357 confirmed cases.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Aspect Maunganidze, said all was set for the roll out of the vaccination programme.

“We expect to officially launch the vaccination programme on Monday. The major hotspots are the first areas that will be covered.

“These will be Harare’s worst affected areas like Kuwadzana and Glen View; Masvingo’s Chiredzi and Manicaland’s Buhera districts,” said Dr Maunganidze.

He said the vaccination campaign will be progressively rolled out to three other cholera epicentres upon delivery of the second consignment of vaccines.

“We are expecting the last of the first batch of 892 000 vaccines to arrive in the evening tonight (Saturday). The next batch of 892 000 vaccines is expected within the next 10 to 14 days, where we anticipate to move to the next hotspots. We are at an advanced stage of preparations and expect to roll out as arranged,” he said.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has secured about 2,2 million doses of the oral cholera vaccine.

The ICG is a global initiative established in 1997 under the World Health Organisation (WHO) to manage and coordinate the emergency supply and distribution of vaccines for critical outbreaks of four specific areas — cholera, meningitis, yellow fever and Ebola.

Public health expert Dr Johannes Marisa said: “Cholera vaccination is very important at this time when we are most likely to continue getting outbreaks. Remember it can give up to 65 percent protection, which means those who are vaccinated will surely benefit in terms of severity of the disease.

“It has been shown that even 10 days after vaccination it can be very effective in preventing severe diarrhoea by up to 90 percent and at three months, you find that the protection stands at around 80 percent such that the risk of getting complicated cholera is very much reduced.”

Sunday Mail

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