Over 6,35,000 Rohingyas refugees and Bangladesh host community will be vaccinated against cholera in a month-long campaign began yesterday at the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and nearby areas.
The campaign will be implemented till December 14 to reach 139,888 Rohingya, aged between one and under five years, according to a press release WHO.
A total of 4,95,197 persons, older than one year in the host communities, will also receive the vaccine.
In total, the OCV campaign will reach 6,35,085 people to protect vulnerable population against the deadly disease amidst increasing number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD).
Led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with support of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and partners, the campaign aims to reach people who missed some or all previous cholera vaccination opportunities.
The campaign, including operational costs, is funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This is the 5th round of cholera vaccination since 2017.
“Oral cholera vaccination is the most effective way to protect people and reduce the risk of disease outbreak,” said Dr Bardan Jung Rana, WHO Representative in Bangladesh.
“Despite the progresses made to ensure access to quality water and sanitation, this remains an issue of concern: approximately 80% of host community living near the camps have not been targeted in previous OCV campaigns and the new arrivals of refugees (1,162) are still vulnerable”, Dr Bardan said.
Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, said, “Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhea. It takes between 12 hours and five days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water. Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated, he said.
It is very important to ensure that those who missed their first or second dose during previous campaigns are now covered, Tomoo Hozumi further said.
“No one, particularly children, should be denied the right to good health, including access to life-saving vaccines,” says Anuradha Gupta, deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“This is why we have been supporting immunisation activities in Cox’s Bazar since 2017, and why we will continue to work closely with partners to protect against cholera, prevent outbreaks and ensure no one is left behind.”
Over 1,450 teams, comprising 4300 volunteers including Community Health Workers (CHW), will be conducting house to house vaccinations. Additionally, 240 supervisors and 68 OCV camp coordinators will support the campaign in the camps, and 15 supervisors and 30 team supervisors for the host community.
The campaign will be monitored by all partners -- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (iccdr,b) and other partners to ensure quality in the camps and host communities.
“The Government is committed to take all possible measures to keep the deadly disease at bay,” said Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of Health Services (DGHS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh.