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Congo launches mass vaccination against cholera

Health authorities in the Congo and international health partners launched a vaccination campaign against cholera that is targeting more than 5 million residents in four provinces, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

The oral vaccine hopes to reach those 1 and older in 15 health zones, it said in a statement.

It said the initiative will run for five days supported on the ground by more than 8,000 workers, outreach supervisors and social mobilizers in North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika and Haut-Katanga provinces.

“The launch of this mass campaign against cholera with the use of the oral vaccine in the targeted provinces will help protect a significant number of people in vulnerable situations and is also crucial to prevent the further spread of the disease to other fragile and exposed areas,” said Boureima Hama Sambo, WHO representative in the Congo.

He said the support of health partners such as Gavi and the International Coordination Group (ICG) made it possible to deliver more than 5 million vaccine doses.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 48,280 suspected cases of cholera, including 421 deaths, have been recorded in the Congo as of Dec. 3, according to WHO data.

It is said to be one of the worst outbreaks in the country’s history since 2017.

North Kivu province has reported 62% of the country’s cholera cases amid massive population displacement and poor coverage of drinking water and hygienic latrines.

Most hit are the camps for internally displaced persons around the provincial capital, Goma.

“Oral cholera vaccines have proven to be effective in preventing and reducing the spread of this infectious disease. It is a major component of the response to save many lives,” added Sambo.

WHO said together with its partners they deployed responders to cholera-affected areas to support authorities in strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene surveillance and interventions, while delivering additional life-saving medical supplies for patient treatment.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection characterized by extreme watery diarrhea that quickly leads to life-threatening dehydration. It is caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water.

The population needs potable drinking water and to comply with hygiene measures to protect against the high risk of contracting cholera.

Nearly 30 countries globally have reported cholera cases since the beginning of the year with WHO African Region the most impacted, where 16 countries reported cases.

Source: AA