A massive cholera immunisation campaign started in Cox's Bazar yesterday to protect the newly-arrived Rohingyas and host communities from the life-threatening diarrhoeal disease.
As many as 900,000 doses of the vaccine have been mobilised and are being delivered by more than 200 mobile vaccination teams, making it the second largest oral cholera vaccination campaign ever, says a press release from the Unicef.
The campaign, which is led by the health ministry and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef, is being held in Ukhia and Teknaf, where more than half a million people have arrived from across the border since August, joining vast numbers already residing in a series of settlements and camps.
The first round of the campaign will cover 650,000 children aged one year and older. The second round will commence on 31 October and will target 250,000 children between the ages of one and five years with an additional dose of the vaccine for added protection, the press release said.
“This is the second largest oral vaccination campaign in the world after Haiti in 2016,” says Edouard Beigbeder, Unicef Representative in Bangladesh. “Cholera is a dangerous disease, especially among children living in cramped, unhygienic conditions. Prevention is essential.”
In the last week, at least 10,292 cases of diarrhoea have been reported and treated from across the settlements and camps. WHO has warned of the potential for an outbreak of cholera.
Unicef and WHO are supporting the health ministry with planning, distribution, volunteer orientation, operational costs and monitoring.
“Emergency vaccination saves lives. The risk of cholera is clear and present, and the need for decisive action apparent,” says Dr N Paranietharan, WHO representative to Bangladesh.
“WHO is committed to mobilising its full technical and operational capacity to support the ministry and our partners to protect, promote and secure the health of this immensely vulnerable population.”
In Ukhia 150 teams have been deployed to vaccinate the target population, while 55 teams, each comprising of five members, have been deployed in Teknaf.