A neglected disease afflicting neglected communities
From the Americas and Asia to Africa and Europe, there have been seven pandemics in 200 years with the latest starting in 1961 and still threatening hundreds of thousands of people. Earlier this year, five African countries launched the biggest cholera vaccination campaign in history. By mid-June, more than two million people in Malawi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia are scheduled to receive two doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV).
New resolution to end cholera
At the 2018 World Health Assembly in Geneva, both Zambia and Haiti tabled a resolution calling for a global commitment to ending the disease – a warning sign of cholera’s clear and present danger to global health. “We have to come up with a plan to be able to eliminate cholera once and for all. For that to happen, it needs to be prioritised in the same way that we have prioritised other diseases such as tuberculosis or malaria,” says Pamela Chisanga, Country Director, Zambia, WaterAid.
Complementary health interventions
The resolution recognises that control and prevention of cholera requires a wide range of complementary health interventions, from improving sanitation and access to clean water to reaching everyone in affected communities with vaccination campaigns. “Oral cholera vaccination gives some breathing space to put into place long-term preventive measures: clean and safe water, sanitation, waste management systems, and the improvement of hygiene and food handling practices,” says Dr. Francis Mwansa, national EPI manager in Zambia.
Biggest cholera vaccination campaign in history
With a wave of cholera outbreaks spreading across Africa in early 2018, Zambia is one of five countries participating in the biggest cholera vaccination campaign in history.
By mid-June, more than two million people in Malawi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia are scheduled to receive the recommended two doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV).
The vaccines, funded by Gavi, are being drawn from the global cholera vaccine stockpile.
1.2 million OCV doses will protect around 600,000 people to contain an emerging cholera outbreak in Bauchi state.
One million OCV doses will protect over 500,000 people in Lilongwe.
360,000 OCV doses have been shipped to Uganda to protect 360,000 people in Hoima District, Western Uganda.
667,100 OCV doses are being delivered as part of the second round of vaccination to the Lusaka slums after a major outbreak infected over 5700 people.
- South Sudan
113,800 OCV doses have been shipped as a preventative measure ahead of the war-torn country’s rainy season.