Mozambique Kicks off Cholera Vaccination Campaign

By Joyce Ojanji

Mozambique has kicked off a cholera vaccination campaign targeting around 720,000 people in eight districts as a control measure against an outbreak in which 5260 cases and 37 deaths have been recorded to date since September 2022.

The five-day campaign, which started 10 days after the country received vaccine doses will see people aged one year and older vaccinated.

According to Dr Severin von Xylander, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Mozambique, the vaccination campaign will be crucial in stemming the spread of cholera and helping save lives.

“We are also working with the health authorities to bolster key outbreak response measures and have deployed staff in the three most affected provinces to support the provincial health authorities to detect, prevent and halt cholera this outbreak,” he noted.

During the vaccination campaign vaccinators will use a mixed approach of vaccinating patients in health centres, through mobile teams and by door-to-door visits. Oral cholera vaccines will be used in conjunction with improvements in water and sanitation to control cholera outbreaks and for prevention in areas known to be high risk for the disease.

Despite a global shortage of cholera vaccines and increased demand due to a rise in outbreaks globally, WHO and its partners, including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and have been able to supply vaccines to countries most affected by cholera in southern Africa. Mozambique received around 720 000 doses of the oral cholera vaccine.

Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director, Country Programmes Delivery at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said the recent rise in disease outbreaks and the risks they present demonstrate the importance of our work in funding the Global Oral Cholera Vaccine Stockpile, cholera response campaigns and access to outbreak response vaccines for diseases such as cholera, measles, yellow fever and polio.

WHO has also disbursed US$ 856 000 to support the response in Mozambique and provided medical supplies and medicines. Mozambique recorded a sharp increase in cases since mid-December 2022. Cholera has so far been reported in five of the country’s 11 provinces. The northern Niassa, Sofala and Tete provinces are the worst affected.

Cholera transmission is closely linked with poor sanitation and inadequate access to safe drinking water. Extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods are worsening the cholera risks. In Mozambique, floods due to the current rainy season have affected over 39 000 people, claimed nine lives and caused extensive damage to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, health centres and 76 000 homes.

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