Cholera: FG shopping for emergency vaccine

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Cholera: FG shopping for emergency vaccineLAGOS — In the wake of the cholera outbreak in the country, the Federal Government yesterday initiated dialogue with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, GAVI, to obtain emergency supplies of oral cholera vaccine, OCV, as Nigeria battles the disease amid a global shortage of the vaccine.

Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC, Dr Jide Idris, who disclosed this in Abuja, said the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, is leading the discussions with GAVI.

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The development came as NCDC yesterday announced an increase in the death toll and spread of the disease across 32 states and 115 local government areas of the federation.

Nigeria utilises three World Health Organization, WHO, pre-qualified oral cholera vaccines, including Dukoral, Shanchol, and Euvichol-Plus.

Two doses of any of the three vaccines are required for full protection and are administered only to persons and groups at high risk, such as travellers to areas with active cholera transmission or people living in areas experiencing outbreaks.

On the request for emergency doses of cholera vaccine,, Idris said: “GAVI, a global health partnership, plays a pivotal role in improving access to vaccines in low-income countries. Through these negotiations, Nigeria aims to secure an emergency supply of cholera vaccines to curb the outbreak.

“Cholera vaccines are not stocked in our public facilities, though they are available in limited quantities in the private sector. But vaccines alone are not the only preventative measures we have at the moment; we must also ensure environmental cleanliness and proper hand hygiene.”

Idris explained further that there is a surge in global demand for cholera vaccines, leading to severe shortage, even though he noted that the limited supply has strained efforts to control outbreaks in endemic regions, including Nigeria.

“Poor sanitation, inadequate clean water supply, and limited healthcare infrastructure have exacerbated the spread of the disease, but in response to the crisis, the NCDC has intensified its public health campaigns, emphasising hygiene practices and the importance of clean water.

“However, these measures alone are insufficient without adequate vaccination coverage. The shortage of vaccines has hampered mass immunisation campaigns, crucial for preventing the spread of cholera.

“The situation in Nigeria underscores broader issues of global health equity and preparedness. It highlights the necessity for increased vaccine production and distribution infrastructure investment,” Idris stated.

While noting that more vaccines were being ordered because of the scale of the problem, the NCDC D-G called for stronger international collaboration to ensure that life-saving vaccines reach the most vulnerable populations promptly.

He regretted that cholera, an acute diarrheal disease caused by ingestion of contaminated water or food, remained a persistent health threat in Nigeria, with the outbreak significantly impacting several states, leading to deaths and overwhelming healthcare facilities.

In 2021, Nigeria received approval from WHO for over 3.5 million doses of the oral cholera vaccine. In 2022, the country requested an additional nine million doses of the vaccines.
The effectiveness of the cholera vaccine varies, depending on the type of vaccine and the number of doses given.

As recommended by the World Health Organisation, WHO, experts say a single dose offers protection, but two doses are generally more effective.

While significant protection lasts at least three years, a single dose for young children might need a booster in the third year.

Nigeria records 54 deaths, 1,579 cases in 32 states — NCDC

In a related development, the NCDC has announced an increase in the death toll and spread of cholera across 32 states and 115 local government areas of the federation.

Giving an update yesterday, the Deputy Director of Surveillance of the NCDC, and National Incident Manager for cholera at the Centre, Dr. Muntari Hassan, said a total 54 deaths and 1,579 suspected cases havd been documented since the beginning of the year.

On Monday, the agency announced that as of June 24, 2024, 53 deaths and 1,528 suspected cases of cholera across 31 states and 107 LGAs were recorded in Nigeria since the beginning of the year with a case fatality rate of 3.5 per cent.

“The current number of people that died is at 54 right now, it’s gone up from 53 and the total number of cases that we have today is 1,579 across 32 states of the Federation, covering 115 local government areas.

“The situation is getting worse in terms of when you look at the number and when you look at the deaths, you can say it is getting worse, but when you look at the total number of reported cases and suspected cases, in this week of 25, it has reduced from what it was in the week of 24, but we are still having cases across the country.

“The worst affected states are Lagos, Bayelsa, Abia, Katsina and about two others, are the six top states that I can say are the worst affected and are the ones with the highest number, but basically,the ones with the highest numbers are Lagos and Bayelsa states.

“It is a multi-factorial; one can’t single out just one problem. Like for example, we may have potable drinking water, but somebody is defecating In the open and he has cholera, so essentially a change of attitude and habits of people, what we need to do ourselves then we can look for support from government. It requires education and that is why we have developed some jingles,” Hassan explained.

It will be recalled that Nigeria had earlier been placed at high risk for increased cholera transmission and impact due to the rainy season.

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