Sierra Leone to deploy 1m doses of oral cholera vaccine
The Sierra Leonean Government said on Tuesday that it was set to deploy an anti-Cholera vaccine as part of efforts to prevent a looming threat of the outbreak of infectious diseases in the aftermath of last month’s deadly mudslide and flooding disasters.
Some 500, 000 people will benefit from the vaccine that will be administered orally in a mass Oral Cholera Vaccination campaign later this month.
The August 14 flooding, which also led to a mudslide in Regent Village in the outskirts of the city, directly affected about a dozen communities in the capital Freetown and its outskirts. About 1000 lives have been reported lost and over 1000 displaced.
Health ministry officials said on Tuesday the flood had left many communities at the risk of disease outbreak as destroyed toilets and decomposed human bodies left water sources contaminated.
The ministry also said a number of diseases were at risk of breaking out but noted that cholera was the major concern of them all.
“Cholera is devastating disease which spread quickly and kills fast, and risks can increase after severe flooding,” said Dr. Brima Kargbo, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by a bacteria. In severe cases, it leads to extreme dehydration, shock and deaths within a few hours, say health experts. Between 1998 and 2013, Sierra Leone realized eight outbreaks of the disease. The worst was in 2012 when 392 people died, out of about 25, 000 cases.
A total of 1, 036, 300 vials of the vaccine called Euvichol, manufactured in South Korea, will be procured under an emergency response programme of the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI). The vaccine is being received from the Gavi-funded global stockpile.
Dr. Foday Daffae, Director of Disease Prevention and head of the Public Health and Emergency Response in the Health Ministry, said although the vaccines would cost US1.6m, it was coming at no cost to the government.
Two rounds of mass immunization, involving health workers moving from door to door, will be conducted in the targeted communities, with the first round running from September 14 to 19. The second round will last from October 4 to 9.