More than 800,000 people will be immunised against cholera in North Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following the launch of a major vaccination campaign on Monday.
The campaign will be implemented by the DRC Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, and funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a statement from the UN agency explained.
A total of 835,183 people in Binza, Goma, Kayina, Karisimbi, Kibirizi, Kirotshe and Rutshuru areas will be vaccinated by 1 June 2019.
The campaign will administer the first of two doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) to people in these areas.
Following a successful implementation, a campaign to administer the second dose will take place at a later stage to provide full protection against cholera.
Over 10,000 cases of cholera have been reported in the country since January 2019, leading to more than 240 deaths.
In addition, over 80,000 suspected cases of measles have led to over 1,400 deaths so far this year while a case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 was reported in Kasai province earlier this month, WHO said.
“The DRC is confronted with an unprecedented combination of deadly epidemics,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“While the Ebola outbreak continues to cause untold misery in the East, measles and cholera epidemics are claiming the lives of thousands of people throughout the country. That’s why we are stepping up our response, through this cholera vaccination campaign, through ongoing measles vaccinations in health zones affected by measles outbreaks, as well as through our continued support for Ebola vaccinations in both the DRC and neighbouring countries. We cannot allow this needless suffering to continue” Seth added.
The 835,183 doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) were taken from the global cholera vaccine stockpile, which is fully funded by Gavi.
Gavi is also supporting operational costs for the campaign.
The use of the stockpile for outbreak response is managed by the International Coordinating Group (ICG), which features representatives from WHO, UNICEF, IFRC and MSF.