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A SPATE of cholera outbreaks across Africa has prompted the largest cholera vaccination drive in history, with more than two million people across the continent set to receive oral cholera vaccine (OCV),according to an announcement by GAVI.
The vaccines, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, were sourced from the global stockpile and are being used to carry out five major campaigns in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan and Nigeria. The campaigns will be completed by mid-June GAVI said.
Oral cholera vaccines are a key weapon in our fight against cholera.
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.
This is an unprecedented response to a spike in cholera outbreaks across Africa, said Dr Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO. 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.
AFRICA’S CHOLERA BURDEN
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.
Every rainy season, cholera springs up and brings devastation to communities across Africa, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHOs Regional Director for 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.