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Cholera vaccinations start next week

by Staff reporter
24 Jan 2024 at 23:16hrs | Views
A TOTAL of 153 active cholera treatment centres have been set up across the country to curb the spread of the water-borne disease as cases continue to surge with the Ministry of Health and Child Care successfully applying for the allocation of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) from International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision.

The vaccination campaign is expected to start from Monday next week (January 29, 2024) in a phased approach targeting the hot spots.

On Tuesday, 205 new suspected cholera cases, six suspected deaths, and nine laboratory-confirmed results were reported across the country.

The first cholera outbreak in the country in 2023 started on February 12, 2023 in Chegutu, Mashonaland  West Province. To date, suspected and confirmed cases have been reported in 60 districts in all the 10 provinces.

As of January 23, 2024, the country had a cumulative total of 20 121 suspected cholera cases, 71 laboratory-confirmed deaths, 376 suspected cholera deaths and 2 202 laboratory-confirmed cases.

The outbreak has now spread to more than the 17 traditional cholera hotspot districts of Buhera, Chegutu, Chikomba, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Chitungwiza, Chiredzi, Harare, Gokwe North, Marondera, Mazowe, Shamva, Mutare, Murehwa, Mwenezi, Seke and Wedza.

In a media briefing yesterday, Health Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said the World Health Organisation had committed to supplying the country with cholera vaccines until the disease is dealt with.

"We have a promise of about 890 000 doses of the vaccines that will be the first batch and we received an intercom from WHO saying they will continuously supply us with vaccines until the situation is under control," he said.

"To say when I can't but we will vaccinate until the situation is controlled starting on January 29 as we will need to train people and ensure everything goes well.

"Ideally, we would want to vaccinate the whole country and we are sure that we will receive enough though these doses will come in batches, and we will start with hotspots. There are 153 active cholera treatment centrers dotted around the country to attend to these cases and keep them at the source"

Dr Mombeshora said members of the public should be aware that rapid response teams treat cholera patients at their locality.

"When our teams are called, they respond to cases  be it communities, household, under a tree or bus terminus. They work at the site to stabilise patients even before a camp set up.

"I am responding to an article making rounds on social media. We don't take them (patients) into the hospital as they may contaminate the whole hospital, hence we see people being treated from under a tree."

Last week, the ministry warmed that funerals were super spreaders and urged members of the public to be wary of gatherings as a means to avert the spread of the deadly disease.

In an interview, Community Working Group Health executive director, Mr Itai Rusike, said behaviour change was the only way out of the surge as cases continued going up daily.

"The rising cases of new cholera infections and deaths is a reflection of the situation on the ground as there's a complete disregard of the cholera guidelines and protocols by the general public. We continue to see the shocking levels of complacency and the general poor adherence of the public health preventive measures," he said.

"There's  a need for a sustained community engagement and awareness campaigns on cholera and the community should be given information on properly washing of hands with soap and running water including practicing high levels of hygiene.

"Local authorities should also play their part in the provision of uninterrupted water supplies to residents so that people can be able to wash their hands with clean and safe water. If the local authorities fail to provide water to their residents, then there should be consequences through the enforcement of the Public Health Act provisions."

He said the response to cholera is not just the responsibility of the health sector as the general public also has a role to play in preventing and ending cholera. "Public gatherings such as funerals, beer binges and church sessions should be strictly monitored by the authorities and to make sure that there's adherence to the cholera guidelines and protocols on public gatherings."

Source - The Chronicle