WHO: More than a million people to be vaccinated against cholera in DR Congo

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A local official receives a dose of oral cholera vaccine in Tshilenge, July 2019 (WHO)
A local official receives a dose of oral cholera vaccine in Tshilenge, July 2019 (WHO)WOR

The second phase of the biggest ever oral vaccination campaign against cholera is currently ongoing in DR Congo.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the campaign is scheduled to take place in 15 health districts in the four central provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – Kasaï, Kasaï Oriental, Lomami et Sankuru until 8 July 2019. The campaign aims to vaccinate more than a million people over the age of one.

2631 vaccinators, recruited from local communities, will conduct a door-to-door campaign administering the oral cholera vaccine. They will also fill in vaccination cards and tally sheets, and compile a daily summary of the teams’ progress.

“WHO and our partners are working with national authorities to roll out the vaccine, which comes in addition to multiple interventions introduced since the beginning of the cholera epidemic, including sanitation and water quality control in the affected areas, many of which have little access to a safe water supply,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said.

The DRC is currently going through an unprecedented combination of deadly epidemics, with Ebola and measles outbreaks also causing untold misery across the country.

WHO reports that in 2018 the DRC reported a cumulative total of 29,304 suspected cholera cases and more than 930 deaths.  Since the start of 2019 at least 12,247 suspected cases of cholera and 279 deaths were reported in 137 health districts in 20 of the 26 provinces of the DRC.

Cholera is a highly contagious communicable disease transmitted via contaminated water or food.  It causes severe diarrhea and dehydration which must be treated immediately to avoid death after only a few hours and to stop the disease from spreading on a massive scale throughout an environment at risk.

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