By Zayamu Hassan
In an effort to integrate the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) into the emergency and preventive measures of endemic countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has organised a training for health officials from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan Uganda and Nigeria.
The training which will last for five days is currently taking place in Abuja, Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the training, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Molumbo, said that Cholera control efforts is a holistic one including more than just vaccination.
He, therefore, said that there is the need to address issues around Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), which, he stressed, it is critical to ending the recurrent cholera outbreak in endemic countries of the world.
Dr Molumbo noted that: “The need to address issues around WASH remains critical in the long term. This brings to bear the need to improved coordination of cholera control efforts and ensure that clean and safe water as well as improve hygienic practices as highlighted in the Cholera control plans are implemented in a sustainable manner to ensure we achieve the desired goal.”
He, however, expressed optimism that the recently approved 9 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) following application by Nigeria to implement two campaigns in 14 LGAs in nine states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), would significantly mitigate the risk of and upsurge of cholera cases during this raining season.
“However, we wish to further reiterate the need for the early allocation and shipment of these vaccines to ensure these vaccinations and carries out sooner than later
“We are mindful of the support by different partners/donors through WHO for the response, including reactive vaccination with over 1.7 million persons vaccinated each with 2 doses of Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) across 7 LGAs in 4 states of Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe and Zamfara,” Dr Molumbo said.
The WHO Chief, however, applauded Global Task Force on Cholera Control and the country support platform (CSP) in the global roadmap for cholera control, especially in endemic countries through the development of the country national control plans (NCPs) including not only vaccination but also WASH activities.
In a welcome address, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, commended the WHO for organizing the training, noting that, the initiative is a tool for prevention and control of cholera outbreaks.
According to him, for some time now, it has become a recurrent seasonal public health challenge in many low and lower middle-income countries, like Nigeria, despite efforts at control.
Dr Ehanire noted that: “The traditional measures for cholera prevention and control have been to provide potable water and improve hygiene and sanitation.
“Science has, however, over the years, risen to the task, with the development of Oral Cholera Vaccine, now certified as effective enough to be recommended for disease prevention and control.
“Availability of the vaccine has unfortunately been limited, which has restricted its use and the much-expected impact. I, therefore, welcome this training as a prelude to equitable access to this vaccine, and another step towards our goal of better health for all.
“I believe it will strengthen our health system by reducing, or even removing one more public health nuisance by vaccination.
“I implore all participants to make best use of this opportunity and put in their best in the one-week training to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to use the vaccine to eliminate cholera as a recurrent health problem.”