Authors: Martha Powell, Future Science Group
More than 800,000 individuals will be vaccinated against cholera in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as the area suffers an unprecedented combination of epidemics.
A major cholera vaccination campaign, launched today, will be implemented by the DRC Ministry of Health with support from the WHO and funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The campaign is aiming to vaccinate 835,183 individuals in the Binza, Goma, Kayina, Karisimbi, Kibirizi, Kirotshe and Rutshuru areas by June 1 2019, administering the first two doses of the oral cholera vaccine to the population.
Over 10,000 cases of cholera have been reported in the DRC since January 2019, leading to 240 mortalities. In addition, over 80,000 suspected cases of measles have been reported, leading to 1400 deaths, and a case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 was reported earlier this month. This is all in addition to the Ebola outbreak currently ongoing in the country.
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, commented: “The DRC is confronted with an unprecedented combination of deadly epidemics. While the Ebola outbreak continues to cause untold misery in the East, measles and cholera epidemics are claiming the lives of thousands of people throughout the country.”
“That’s why we are stepping up our response, through this cholera vaccination campaign, through ongoing measles vaccinations in health zones affected by measles outbreaks, as well as through our continued support for Ebola vaccinations in both the DRC and neighbouring countries. We cannot allow this needless suffering to continue.”
The doses of cholera vaccine have been taken from the global cholera vaccine stockpile, which is funded by Gavi. Moreover, more than 2 million individuals have also been vaccinated in the DRC as part of a measles outbreak response funded by Gavi through the Measles & Rubella Initiative. A further 400,000 people are expected to be vaccinated as part of this response.
Deo Nshimirimana, acting WHO Representative in the DRC, concluded: “Cholera is a preventable disease. Vaccinating people at risk in the most exposed health zones in North Kivu against cholera is a massive contribution and will protect hundreds of thousands of people against the disease and raise population immunity levels in these areas. WHO is working with national and provincial authorities and all partners to make sure that people targeted in these health areas will be reached with the vaccine.”
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