Largest-Ever Cholera Vaccine Campaign Announced

By mid-June, oral cholera vaccine will be provided to more than 2 million people through campaigns in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan, and Nigeria.

What the World Health Organization described May 7 as the largest cholera vaccine campaign in history aims to provide oral cholera vaccine to more than 2 million people. A spate of cholera outbreaks across Africa prompted the vaccination drive; 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. They are being implemented by the respective Ministries of Health supported by the WHO and partners of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), mostly in reaction to recent cholera outbreaks.

Between 1997 and 2012, only 1.5 million doses of cholera vaccines were used worldwide. But in 2017 almost 11 million were used, from Sierra Leone to Somalia to Bangladesh, and during the first four months of 2018, some 15 million doses have been approved for use worldwide. "This is an unprecedented response to a spike in cholera outbreaks across Africa," said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. "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."

"Oral cholera vaccines are a key weapon in our fight against cholera," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general. "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 centers, delivering supplies, distributing public health guidance, training health workers, and working with communities on prevention."

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.

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