By World Healthcare Journal-
The World Health Organisation has sent more than 900,000 cholera vaccines to the affected areas in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe following the area’s most destructive hurricane in recent years. With up to 700 reported deaths in the region, health authorities are battling to contain the outbreak which is a direct result of contaminated water and shortage of drinking water.
Aid agencies have been quick to respond. Doctors Without Boarders has set up treatment centres, while health workers in Mozambique have been handing out oral doses of the cholera vaccine to people in the port city of Beira, with The Independent reporting that people are knocking back the doses like shots in a bar.
“The cyclone substantially damaged the city’s water supply system, resulting in many people having no access to clean drinking water,” says co-ordinator Gert Verdonck.
“This means that they have had no option but to drink from contaminated wells. Some people are even resorting to drinking stagnant water by the side of the road. ”
A single dose of the vaccine offers six month immunity to the disease, but authorities are still facing the massive problem of restoring the country’s infrastructure which has seen more than 3m people affected. The UN is working with the Mozambique Health Department to monitor water distribution points.
But the wider issue lies around removing the fetid water that flows through the streets, along with health messaging to educate the public around cholera prevention. The good news, though, is that the outbreak is not as great as feared and the authorities are hoping that they have managed to contain this particularly epidemic, though it tends to resurface sporadically following storms in the region and affects the poor and displaced.
Cholera affects 1.3m to 4m people globally but is treatable if victims reach help in time. Doctors Without Borders has responded to this by training 80 local doctors and nurses to treat cholera.