3 April 2019

Mozambique: Second Death in Cholera Outbreak

Photo: Sarah Cumberland/WHO
The World Heath Organization took a delivery of oral vaccines in advance of a mass vaccination campaign.

Maputo — The cholera outbreak in the central Mozambican province, has now claimed a second life, according to the National Director of Medical Care, Ussene Issa, speaking to reporters in Beira on Tuesday.

The fatality occured in the district of Dondo, about 30 kilometres west of Beira. Issa, cited by the independent television station STV, said that when the victim reached a Dondo health unit, he was already fatally dehydrated, and the staff were unable to save him. The first death was of a one year old child in Beira on Friday.

Between 27 March and 07.00 on Tuesday, 1,428 cholera cases entered the treatment units. Of these, 1,218 cases were diagnosed in Beira, 144 in Nhamatanda district and 66 in Dondo. Most of these patients were treated quickly and sent home. As of Tuesday morning, 79 were still hospitalised, 57 in Beira, 16 in Dondo and six in Nhamatanda.

About 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine arrived in Beira on Tuesday, to be used in the mass vaccination campaign due to begin on Wednesday. The vaccines were obtained by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and are financed by the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI, which is a private-public global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.

Cited in a UNICEF press release, the organisation's deputy representative in Mozambique, Michel Le Pechoux, said "the disease is spreading rapidly. The acquisition of vaccines is one of the various approaches that UNICEF and its partners are taking to contain the spread of cholera, alongside the re-establishment of water treatment systems, and the distribution of water purification products".

UNICEF adds that humanitarian teams are working in communities to raise awareness about the symptoms of cholera and how to avoid the disease.

The target of the vaccination campaign is to vaccinate 880,000 people over one year of age in Beira and the districts of Dondo, Nhamatanda and Buzi. The vaccine is given in one dose orally, and takes effect within a week. It is said to be 80 per cent efficient.

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