13 February 2016

Malawi: Over 30,000 People to Receive Oral Cholera Vaccine in Zomba

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Zomba District Health Office (DHO) will start giving oral cholera vaccine to people in Zomba as one way of protecting them from infection.

The vaccination is targeting over 30,000 people from one year and above in areas around Lake Chirwa where the DHO believes to be the source of cholera outbreaks in three districts of Machinga Phalombe and Zomba.

Making the presentation at an extraordinary stakeholders meeting in Zomba, Zomba District Health Office (DHO) Representative Michael Luhanga said government proposed to conduct the cholera vaccination campaign to protect people at risk of getting the disease which affects communities without access to good water, sanitation and hygiene.

In his presentation, Luhanga said the campaign would be carried out in five days including two days of mop up starting from 16 to 22 February during the first round.

"The campaign is expected to be carried out in two rounds from February 16 to February 22 and the second round starting from 9 to 14 March this year," explained Luhanga.

He added that the vaccine is prequalified by World Health Organisation for two doses administered in two weeks apart.

"The cholera vaccine, known as Shankol is said to be very well tolerated and effective if taken in two doses per individual," he said.

In his remarks, District Commissioner for Zomba, Bennet Nkasala urged chiefs and other local leaders including councilors who were present to take the message seriously to people in rural areas where the campaign will be conducted.

Nkasala said, "Chiefs and all local leaders who are present today have a great role to play in disseminating this message to rural people to understand the main purpose of the vaccine."

He added that sometimes people may have negative attitudes towards such messages not knowing that they are intended to protect them.

Group Village Headman Nsoni from the cholera prone area of Lungazi commended Zomba DHO for the commitment shown during the outbreak to protect lives of people.

He appealed to the DHO to continue their commitment in all areas across the district in order to combat the cholera outbreak and other related diseases.

District Health Officer Dr. Gift Kawalazira assured people that his office is trying its best to take care of people who have been affected by the disease and put measures in place to avoid further spread of the disease to other areas.

He however, asked all stakeholders to join efforts in addressing the cholera issues in the district noting that the number one vaccine of cholera is hygiene.

According to Zomba District Health Office, areas to be vaccinated include Kachulu, Mchenga, Magwere, Jalasi, Chilipaine, Mtolongo, Chipengule, Chiphanga, Nkuba, Katanda, Muhamadu, Namombe, Lundu, Chidyamphiri Island, Chisi Island, Thongwe Island, Chinguma, Lungazi, Ngotangota and the floating homes (Zimbowera) which will reach to over 30, 000 people.

This is the second time the Ministry of Health is conducting Oral Cholera Vaccination after Nsanje and Chikwawa districts last year where it has shown the effectiveness of the vaccine.

The Ministry Of Health said the two districts have not yet registered any cholera case since the rains started early 2015.

Officials from the ministry said the vaccine works for five years and but has no immediate plans to roll out to other areas in the district.

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