A massive cholera immunization campaign began today in southeast part of the country to protect the newly influx of Rohingya people and host communities from the life-threatening diarrheal disease.
“Primarily, we are administering 650,000 people aged one year and older through more than 200 mobile vaccination teams to check diarrheal disease outbreak,” Director General of Health Services Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad told BSS.
“Two weeks later, 2.50 lakh children under five will be fed the second dose of the vaccine,” he said, adding that after six months, booster doses would be provided to the kids of Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf where over five lakh Rohingya people of Rakhine state of Myanmar have taken shelter fleeing violence.
“The programme is leading by the Ministry of Health while GAVI, the vaccine alliance, is providing financial support of Taka 13.20 crore and multiple national and international agencies, including IOM, the UN Migration Agency, are implementing the campaign,” health services chief.
UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh Edouard Beigbeder said, “This is the second largest oral vaccination campaign in the world after Haiti in 2016 …Cholera is a dangerous disease, especially among children living in cramped, unhygienic conditions. Prevention is essential,” said a press release.
In the last week, at least 10,292 cases of diarrhoea have been reported and treated from across the settlements and camps.
UNICEF and WHO are supporting the Ministry of Health with planning, distribution, volunteer orientation, operational costs and monitoring, said the press release.
“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 mobilizing 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,” he said.
In Ukhiya, 150 teams have been deployed to vaccinate the target population, while 55 teams have been deployed in Teknaf. Each team is comprised of five members.
Though vaccination can provide life-saving protection against cholera, it supplements but does not replace other traditional cholera control measures such as access to clean water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene.