Zim launches oral cholera vaccination campaign

By Ndumiso Tshuma

The government, in conjunction with UNICEF Zimbabwe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners, has launched a cholera vaccine whose single dose delivered into the mouth will guard against cholera infections for at least six months.

The cholera campaign aims to reach 2.3 million people aged one year and up who live in 160 wards across 26 high-risk districts in seven provinces, including Harare, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Masvingo, and Midlands, said to be the main drivers of the outbreak. 

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, provided financial support for the battle to prevent cholera from spreading in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has since recorded more than 21 000 suspected cholera and more than 400 confirmed suspected deaths since its first case was recorded a year ago on February 12, 2023 in Chegutu.

Speaking at the launch of the cholera vaccine in Harare on Monday UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale,said the introduction of the cholera vaccine is another tool to prevent the further spread of disease.

“The cholera vaccine used in Zimbabwe is the Euvichol-Plus vaccine, produced by EuBiologics. It is an oral vaccine administered  by mouth. One dose of vaccine protects against cholera infections for a period of at least six months,” Dr Oyewale said.

”It is my plea that our communities accept this vaccine so that all the targeted people from one year and above are vaccinated as another measure to stop the outbreak.”

Dr Oyewale said the main operational strategy that will be used in the vaccination campaign will be house to house to minimise gatherings and further spread of the  disease.

“This will be complemented by fixed vaccination points in all health facilities within the catchment areas. While the cholera vaccine provides additional protection against infections, it is important to highlight that it does not replace the other cholera prevention measures, such as drinking treated or boiled water, safe disposal of solid ,liquid, and human waste, observing food hygiene standards,” he said.

 The UNICEF representative assures  Zimbabweans that “UNICEF and its funding partners will continue to coordinate with Government on the response with a focus on Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCCE), Procurement and Logistics, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Case Management and Water ,Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), as evidenced by the procurement and delivery of case management commodities handed over last FRiday ,with Financial support from the Health Resilience Fund (HRF).

“I am glad to hear that distribution of these commodities has already started,” Dr Oyewale said.

The vaccination launch was also attended by Minister of Health and Childcare – Dr Douglas Mombeshora, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province – Charles Tavenga, Deputy Minister of Health and Childcare – Dr Aspect Maungandize, Mayor of Harare -Councillor Jacob Mafume, Health Sector Stakeholders, representatives from the donor community and UN Representatives.

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