Cholera door-to-door vaccination rolled out

09 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Cholera door-to-door vaccination rolled out Centurion, Gogo Marita Mubvumba (100) of Chikanga Phase Two in Mutare receives the oral cholera dose during the ongoing vaccination campaign against the bacterial disease that ends tomorrow (Saturday). The doses were allocated according to hotspots in affected wards in each province. — Picture: Tinai Nyadzayo

The ManicaPost

 

Samuel Kadungure
Senior Reporter

The cholera vaccination campaign was rolled out in Manicalandon Tuesday and will run until February 10 in all hotspots in Buhera, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Makoni and Mutare.

This comes as Makoni District has become the latest epicentre of the cholera outbreak in Manicaland after recording three suspected deaths and several cases this week.

Mobile teams are conducting a door-to-door blitz that seeks to minimise gatherings, while fixed vaccination points at all health facilities in the catchment area have also been set up.

Since the outbreak started in February 2023, the waterborne disease has killed at least 154people in Manicaland, thereby making the province one of the hardest hit in the country.

A multi-sectoral cholera response plan led by the Ministry of Health and Child Care Care in collaboration with Government’s partnershas been rolled outto prevent the spread of the disease through improved access to safe water, sanitation, personal and food hygiene, as well as the dissemination of preventive messages.

The introduction of the cholera vaccine is another tool to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Manicaland provincial health promotions officer, Mrs Agnes Mugumbate said the vaccination campaign is progressing well in the province.

At national level, the vaccination blitz is targeting 2.3 million people aged a year and above in the 26 high risk districts in seven provinces, including Manicaland.

Mrs Mugumbate said mapping is still ongoing and therefore she could not yet disclose the vaccination target for Manicaland.

The vaccine being administered is theEuvichol-Plus, which is takenorally, with a dose protecting the recipient against infection for six months.

Mrs Mugumbatesaid while the vaccine provides additional protection against cholera infection, it does not replace other prevention protocols like regular handwashing under running safe water, drinking treated or boiled water, safe disposal of solid, liquid and human waste, as well as observing food and environmental hygiene standards.

Mrs Mugumbate said health officials will continue engaging civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, religious and traditional leaders and community structures to create demand for the vaccination services in targeted hotspots.

“The vaccination of cholera started on Tuesday and will run until Saturday (February 10)in Buhera, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Mutarecity and rural. The vaccination is taking place in all hotpots in selected wards in these districts, targeting those who are one year old and above.

“The vaccine is being administered orally and the programme is going on well,” she said.

“The doses were allocated according to hotspots in affected wards in each province. The target population in the wards formed the basis of allocation of the quantities of vaccines received in the province. We started with the hotspots, and when the vaccine is readily available we will roll out to the other areas,” she added.

Mrs Mugumbate said all gatherings and funerals in cholera-affected areas will continue to be supervised in order to ensure adequate clean water, sanitation provision and other hygienic practices to reduce transmission, adding that all persons with diarrhoea should start taking the salt and sugar solution and quickly report to their nearest health facility.

However, addressing vaccine hesitancy and the negative influence of anti-vaccine groups has been a major challenge in the province, with religious objectors allegedly shunning treatment, while in some cases patients present late for treatment, thereby leading to high institutional fatalities.

“Our communities should receive the cholera vaccination because it is a response by Government to reduce the spread of cholera, and those who have received the vaccine should continue maintaining a high standard of food and environmental hygiene.

“The vaccine will protect us from the disease, and we are encouraging members of divergent religious and cultural beliefs to embrace this initiative and continue practicing good hygiene standards,” said Mrs Magumbate.

This publication understands that the cholera wave has encroached into Makoni District amid revelations that some religious sect members are allegedly concealing infected and dead bodies of their family members, thereby compromising Government’s life-saving health interventions.

The sect members in Chiduku, Nedziwa and Nzvimbe areas of Makoni are allegedly conducting burials of those who would have succumbed to cholera without the requisite supervision by infection prevention and control specialists.

This has seen funerals turning into super spreaders.

The affected areas are vulnerable due to poor sanitation, overcrowded households, poor access roads, unsafe drinking water, unhygienic conditions, and ignorance about the disease.

MakoniDistrict Medical Officer, Dr TendaiNyafesa said some of the victims are being concealed and shunning treatment, while in some instances others are presented late, leading to fatalities.

Dr Nyafesa said there is urgent need to address the treatment hesitancy through an inclusive community engagement strategy that provides accurate information on the disease, as well as debunking religious and cultural myths on medical treatment.

“There is a sudden cholera outbreak in Chiduku, Nedziwa and Nzvimbe areas, and on Monday only, we recorded three suspected deaths and several cases that are being managed on site. These cases could be more.

“However, our efforts to save the situation are being militated by the spiritualisation of the illness by some members of religious sects who are concealing the sick and their family members’ dead bodies.

“They are even conducting suspected cholera burials without the requisite supervision of our infection prevention and control specialists, this turns the funerals into super spreaders. Those who attend such funerals risk being infected, but they then refuse to seek medical attention, thereby creating a vicious cycle,” he said.

Dr Nyafesa said there is need to strengthen the five pillars that are critical in the elimination of cholera, that is public health emergency preparedness and response; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); infrastructure rehabilitation; community empowerment, as well as innovative financing and resource mobilisation.

“The water and sanitation in the affected areas is poor. They get their water from Mucheke River, and the settlement is difficult to access as there are no proper roads.

“The communities need to go back to the basics and prioritise access to clean water and sanitation, improve primary care and public health, including rapid diagnosis and treatment of cases to stop cholera from spreading,” said Dr Nyafesa.

 

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