Milestones :: Perspectives
OCV – Yemen, Zimbabwe
Health workers in Yemen reach more than 306,000 people with cholera vaccines during four-day pause in fighting – WHO, UNICEF
Vaccination campaign covers war-torn areas of Hudaydah and Ibb
GENEVA/NEW YORK 5 October 2018 – More than 306,000 people in Yemen, including over 164,000 children under the age of 15, were vaccinated against cholera as part of a joint WHO-UNICEF campaign that concluded today. The number is expected to go up as reports of the final day of the campaign come in. The six-day vaccination effort, carried out by 3,000 health workers in three districts of Hudaydah and Ibb, was made possible by a pause in fighting – known as ‘Days of Tranquility’ – agreed by parties to the conflict.
“The success of this vaccination campaign shows what we can collectively achieve for children and families in Yemen when the fighting stops and humanitarian access opens up,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Yet the reality is that this is a quick fix. Only a comprehensive political resolution to the conflict can secure the wellbeing of children across the country over the long term.”
“It is unacceptable for people to die from preventable diseases,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We are grateful for the pause in fighting which enabled us to complete the cholera vaccination campaign. Vaccination is one of many health services people need. Ultimately, peace is the only road to health.”
Since April 2017, there have been over 1.2 million suspected cholera cases and 2,515 associated deaths in the country – one of the worst outbreaks in recent history. The vaccination is critical to preventing further spread of the disease. This campaign aimed to reach 540,000 in the three districts.
Before the end of the year, many more people will need to be vaccinated against cholera, and millions more children immunized against polio, measles, pneumonia and other preventable diseases…
3 October 2018, Harare – The Government of Zimbabwe with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners is launching today an oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign to protect 1.4 million people at high risk of cholera in Harare.
The immunization drive is part of efforts to control a cholera outbreak, which was declared by the health authorities on 6 September 2018.The vaccines were sourced from the global stockpile, which is funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Gavi is also funding operational costs for the campaign..
The current cholera outbreak is geographically concentrated in the densely populated suburbs of Harare,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa. “We have a window of opportunity to strike back with the oral cholera vaccine now, which along with other efforts will help keep the current outbreak in check and may prevent it from spreading further into the country and becoming more difficult to control.”
The campaign will be rolled out in two rounds, focusing on the most heavily affected suburbs in Harare and Chitungwiza, which is 30 km southeast of the capital city. To ensure longer-term immunity to the population, a second dose of the vaccine will be provided in all areas during a second round to be implemented at a later stage.
“Cholera is a disease that can be prevented with clean water and sanitation: there is no reason why people should still be dying from this horrific disease,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Gavi has worked hard to ensure the global cholera vaccine stockpile remains fully stocked and ready to help stop outbreaks such as this. The government of Zimbabwe have done a great job in fighting this outbreak; we must now hope that these lifesaving vaccines can help to prevent any more needless deaths.”
WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health and Child Care on a strategy for rolling out the vaccination campaign, as well as implementing the campaign and sensitizing the public about the vaccine. More than 600 health workers have been trained to carry out the campaign…