Nearly 2.2 million doses of oral cholera vaccines have been dispensed among Rohingya refugees and their host community through three massive vaccination campaigns since November 2017
Nearly 330,000 Rohingyas and the Bangladesh host community will be receiving vaccines against cholera in a month-long campaign in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and its nearby areas.
The campaign, which began on Saturday, is being conducted to protect the vulnerable population from the deadly disease, reports UNB.
Led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, and partners such as Gavi, the vaccine alliance, the campaign aims to reach people who missed some or all previous cholera vaccination opportunities.
"Despite the progress and efforts made by humanitarian agencies to improve water and sanitation in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, cholera and waterborne diseases remain a concern. Oral cholera vaccination is the most effective way to protect such a large section and reduce the risk of an outbreak," said Dr Bardan Jung Rana, WHO representative in Bangladesh.
Nearly 2.2 million doses of oral cholera vaccines have been dispensed among Rohingya refugees and their host community through three massive vaccination campaigns since November 2017.
"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. It is extremely important to ensure that those who missed their first or second dose during previous campaigns are now covered," said Edouard Beigbeder, Unicef representative in Bangladesh.
Over 100 mobile and fixed-site vaccination teams, comprised of over 700 vaccinators and volunteers, and supported by 4,000 health workers and mobilisers, are part of the massive immunization effort.
"With the concerted efforts of the Government of Bangladesh, WHO, Unicef, and other health partners, cholera outbreaks have been averted in Cox's Bazar. The government is committed to taking all possible measures to keep the deadly disease at bay," said Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad, director general of Health Services (DGHS) at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In addition to vaccination, continuous efforts are being made with the support of Unicef to improve access to clean water, sanitation, and promote hygiene – all critical measures for controlling the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The World Health Organization has launched an early warning and emergency surveillance system, which includes monitoring of diseases being reported to the health facilities.
Additionally, they are supporting the monitoring of water quality and enhancing the laboratory capacity of the Department of Public Health Engineering.
Both WHO and Unicef have prepositioned life-saving medical supplies to ensure a rapid response to any cholera outbreak.