Sustainable WASH practices critical to eliminating cholera – WHO

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By Gina Abella

The World Health Organisation (WHO), has said the provision and access to clean, safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), were very critical to eliminating Cholera outbreaks in the Nigeria and other endemic countries by 2030.

WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Molumbo who made this known 

at the Organisation’s training on the integration of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) in emergency and preventative contexts on Monday in Abuja, noted that the control of cholera goes beyond just the vaccination.

According to him, Nigeria which just degraded its biggest Cholera outbreak which commenced in 2021 with over 100,000 suspected cases reported, got support from different partners/donors through WHO 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 

He said: “Working in line with the preparedness towards future campaigns, we believe that the recently approved GTFCC application for Nigeria with approximately 9million doses of OCV to implement two campaigns in 14 LGAs in 9 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, 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.

“Pursuant to addressing equality and equity issues and ensuring reduction in zero doses children in alignment with the Gavi 5.0 and the Immunization Agenda 2030, we must ensure that all opportunities of vaccination campaigns are used to specifically target areas with huge zero doses and ensure that these often-missed children are not only offered OCV but opportunities for all routine vaccination.

“Cholera control efforts is a holistic one including more than just vaccination. 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.”

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who commended the WHO for preventive and control tool for cholera outbreaks which he noted has become a recurrent seasonal public health challenge despite efforts to control its surge, lamented that since its first recorded appearance of cholera at epidemic level in 1972, it has gradually increased in numbers along with marked mortality and morbidity along the years. 

“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.”

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