The Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) has approved about 9 million doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) for Nigeria that can be used in two campaigns in 14 local government areas (LGAs) across nine states, including the Federal Capital Territory, to reduce the risk of cholera outbreaks during the rainy season.
Dr Walter Molumbo, the World Health Organization’s country representative in Nigeria, stated this at a WHO training on the integration of the OCV in emergency and preventative contexts, noting that Nigeria has degraded its largest cholera outbreak, which began in 2021 with over 100,000 suspected cases reported, and emphasized the importance of early vaccine allocation and shipment to ensure vaccinations are carried out as soon as possible to prevent the outbreak from spreading.
Molumbo stated that the challenges identified during the GTFCC’s annual stakeholder meeting in 2021, such as poor quality reactive and preventative OCV campaign requests, a lack of OCV use as an outbreak response in some settings, and unsatisfactory monitoring and evaluation of OCV campaigns, must be addressed immediately.
Cholera eradication initiatives are holistic in nature, encompassing more than just vaccines, and the need to address WASH issues remains crucial in the long term, says Molumbo.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, also spoke, recalling that the first outbreak of cholera at the epidemic level in Nigeria occurred in 1972, with a gradual increase in the number of outbreaks over the years, along with significant mortality and morbidity, as well as treatment and management costs.
He noted that traditional cholera prevention and control measures have included providing safe drinking water and improving hygiene and sanitation, but that science has risen to the occasion in recent years, with the development of an oral cholera vaccine that has been certified as effective enough to be recommended for disease prevention and control.
The minister stated that the vaccine’s availability has been restricted, which has reduced its use and the much-anticipated impact.
Source: The Guardian