Govt decides to vaccinate some 66.4m people living in high risk regions of the country
Dr Sania Tahmina, additional director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) made the disclosure while addressing the media to announce the opening of the 15th International Conference on Diarrheal Disease and Nutrition (ASCODD) in Dhaka's Pan Pacific Sonargaon on Sunday.
She said the vaccination program would get under way from February 15.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), a public–private global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunization in poor countries, is supporting the program with vaccines.
Bangladesh government will implement the initiative under the national action plan of controlling cholera with support from International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).
Professor Dr Sanya Tahmina, also the line director, CDC, DGHS, said: "Now our priority is to eliminate cholera by 2030, and the conference will definitely help us in this regard."
Cholera still affects 47 countries across the globe resulting in an estimated 2.86 million cases, and 95,000 deaths per year worldwide where Bangladesh ranks 8th in the list of worst affected places.
Cholera infections do not occur by chance; rather, cholera affects communities already burdened by conflict, lack of infrastructure, poor health systems, and malnutrition. In fact, the map of cholera outbreaks is essentially the same as a map of poverty and marginalization.
Dr Tajul Islam Bari, formerly a bureaucrat now working as a consultant for icddrb, told Dhaka Tribune that the vaccine will be supplied in the areas considered as hotspots for the infectious disease in Dhaka city's Mohammadpur, Adaabor, Hazaribagh, Lalbagh, Keraniganj, and Darussalam neighborhood.
The precise date of launching the vaccination program would be re-confirmed after getting the vaccines from GAVI, he said, adding that it would take around six days to complete the vaccination scheme, which means that the period for the vaccination program would entail February 15 through 20.
A total of two immunization shots of vaccines will be given to a person. The first one would make one immune to the virus for six months, and after taking the second shot within one year, it will make a person immune to cholera virus for the next three years, Bari reiterated.
Replying to a question, Senior Scientist of icddr,b and also the President of ASCODD, Dr Firdausi Qadri, while admitting to this reporter of having no accurate reports on Cholera patients in the country, said: "Some 40% of the Dhaka city residents are living in the high risk areas of potential cholera infection."
Reports, however, suggest that around 1 hundred thousand people are infected by cholera virus each year. Although the incidents of death from the disease has decreased in the country as the people are much more aware of the illness, she added.
Meanwhile, Dr Tajul Islam Bari, referring to the National Cholera Control Plan, said an estimated 66.4m people are living in high risk areas of cholera throughout the country, and all of them will be vaccinated step-by-step.
Cholera outbreak hits at least twice a year in the country, and therefore, vaccination programs such as these may help control the spread of the disease, Dr Sanya said.