2.3 million people to get cholera vaccine

Residents of highly-affected areas will receive the vaccine

Bangladesh is set to vaccinate 2.3 million people living in diarrhoea-risk areas with cholera vaccines. 

Residents of highly affected areas in the capital – Jatrabari, Dakshinkhan, Mirpur, Mohammadpur and Shabujbag areas – will receive the vaccines. 

The health authorities reached this decision after the recent upsurge in diarrhoea cases across the country, especially Dhaka, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). 

DGHS Line Director (CDC) Prof Dr Md Nazmul Islam announced the details during a vritual media call on Wednesday. 

“The first dose will be administered in May and the second one in June,” said Professor Dr Nazmul Islam.

“People aged over one year, except expecting women, will get the vaccines,” he added and said no registration will be required for the vaccine. 

The DGHS official said that while the authorities had originally intended to vaccinate at least 4.7million people, oral vaccines were not widely available. 

He added that the date for the vaccination program would be fixed after the microplanning was complete. 

Jatrabari affected the most

According to the DGHS, some 170,237 diarrhoea cases were recorded last month and among them 66,046 were in Dhaka division.

Health officials said that the number of infections is somewhat similar to that of the last six years. However, the only exception is the capital city.

Among the 66,046 cases in Dhaka division, some 36,912 were recorded in the capital.   

The demographic analysis presented by the CDC unit of DGHS showed that during March 8 to 15, Jatrabari was the most affected region.

Some 1,150 cases were recorded from Jatrabari area while the nearest most affected area, Mirpur, witnessed some 550 cases.

They also mentioned that a good number of patients were coming from Savar, Manikganj, Keraniganj, Tongi, Gazipur, Munshiganj and Narsingdi areas as well.

According to the DGHS, some four people have died from the disease till now. 

The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) registered five deaths from the disease as of Tuesday.

Besides, some 25 people have been brought dead to the icddr,b hospital till now.

Responding to queries on why people were rushing to icddr,b, instead of to local health care institutions, the DGHS chief said: “icddr,b is popularly known as a cholera hospital and if dehydration occurs, they go there first.”

Why the rise in cases?

The DGHS says that water pollution was the main cause of the sudden rise in diarrhoeal cases. 

According to Professor Nazmul Islam, safe use of supplied water and following health rules could have a significant impact on the number of cases. 

He added that the water might be safe when supplied to domestic levels from its sources, which might cause the problem.

For example, in Rajbari, it was found that people were using ice used for fish storage. After the local administration successfully stopped it, the cases declined.

Moreover, people often wait till the situation worsened before taking oral saline, says Nazmul Islam.

“They need to be more cautious and have to take more and more saline while seeking medical treatment,” he said. 

He urged all to ensure self-safety when it comes to using water and called on people to visit the nearest government health facilities if they were affected by diarrheal disease.