The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the World Health Organization on Monday launched an extensive cholera vaccination campaign targeting 2 million people in the east of the country.
The campaign, which is intended for those 1 year or older in Haut-Lomami, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces, aims to halt an ongoing outbreak. It is the second vaccination drive this year. More than 1.4 million people received jabs in March and July in the southeastern Haut-Katanga province.
“Cholera is a dangerous infection that can kill within hours if untreated, but it is predictable and preventable,” said Amedee Prosper Djiguimde, WHO Officer in Charge in the DRC.
“In addition to the vaccines, which are one of the effective measures against the disease, it’s also very important to provide clean water and to reinforce hygiene and sanitation in order to prevent the outbreak from spreading further.”
According to the WHO, around 3,600 health workers including vaccinators and community mobilizers have been deployed to carry out the campaign which will run for six days. Since the start of the year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has reported a total of 8,279 suspected cholera cases and 153 deaths in 16 of the country’s 26 provinces.
The world health body added cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration that must be treated immediately to prevent death, which can occur in just a few hours. Vaccination will help prevent the disease from spreading on a large scale in a high-risk environment.
“Disease surveillance, improved water, sanitation and hygiene services as well as early detection, treatment and vaccines are crucial in preventing cholera and containing infection spread. Coverage with a full two-round dose of oral cholera vaccine provides up to five years of protection,” the WHO said in the statement.