Mogadishu: Somali and UN agencies on Saturday started a week-long immunization campaign, using oral cholera vaccines in high-risk districts to prevent recurring outbreaks in the country.
The campaign, which is scheduled to end on June 28 and is being carried out alongside UNICEF and other global partners, seeks to vaccinate more than 650,000 people aged one and above to eliminate the risk of the disease among the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Fauziya Abikar Nur, Somalia’s health minister, said cholera remains one of the major public health threats.
“We now have the means and solutions to end cholera from Somalia. We continue to work with WHO (World Health Organization) and our other partners to save lives and prevent cholera on a long-term sustainable basis,” Nur said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu.
According to WHO, Somalia reported 1,041 suspected cases of cholera since the current outbreak in January, including one related death, in 25 districts of the states located in the basins of the Jubba and Shabelle rivers.
In 2017, Somalia faced one of the largest outbreaks in its history, with 78,784 cases, including 1,159 deaths, WHO said.
In 2018, Somalia saw a reduction in reported cases of cholera and related deaths, largely due to improved disease surveillance and case management, with the reported number of cases standing at 6,448, including 45 deaths.
Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO representative for Somalia, said the UN agency remains committed to keeping the country free from future cholera outbreaks.
“No one should die of cholera in the 21st century, especially when we have an affordable and easily administrable cure,” Malik said. “It remains our collective responsibility to save lives and end cholera from Somalia.”
During the two rounds of the campaign, 112 vaccinators will go from house to house in the six districts where they aim to vaccinate around 150 people a day.
WHO said a total of 217 community mobilisers have been deployed to conduct house-to-house visits and inform communities about campaign dates and benefits of vaccination prior to the actual start of the campaign.