‘Personal hygiene is first line of defence’
THE public should practice basic personal hygiene as the first line of defence against cholera, health officials have said.
Oral cholera vaccination rolled out by Government is a secondary measure to curb the disease.
Government launched the vaccination campaign in Budiriro, Harare on October 3, 2018 and an estimated 390 910 people have received a dose of the medication to date.
Last week, World Health Organisation cholera control expert Dr Marc Poncin said vaccination worked handin-glove with good hygiene.
“We encourage the public to continue drinking clean, safe water; wash fruits and vegetables with clean water before consumption; eat food whilst hot; use the toilets and avoid open defecation; and wash hands under clean running water with soap after using the toilet.
“Our aim is to prevent a second wave of cholera so the vaccination works hand-in -glove with good hygiene.”
Present interventions, Dr Marc said, gave local authorities headroom to come up with medium to long-term solutions to prevent future outbreaks.
According to WHO, a single dose of the vaccine provides immunity for six to 12 months, while the administration of a second dose lengthens the protection period to between three and five years.
“The vaccine should be administered in two doses and the second dose should be given not later than six months after the first dose. The second dose will be administered before March next year,” he said.
$2,6 million has been spent on vaccination, which is funded by Gavi — an international organisation founded in 2000 — with support from WHO.
To date, there have been less than 10 cases of negative reaction to the vaccine, and the second phase of the drive began last week and is expected to end on Thursday.
Dr Marc said, “We are vaccinating in nine suburbs in Harare in the second phase. We have 80 teams and over 1 000 trained workers. We are also going to vaccinate 9 000 Harare prison inmates and prison officers.”
Vaccination against cholera does not protect against any other diarrhoeal disease.
For Government to declare an end of the cholera outbreak, no new infections should be recorded for 14 consecutive days.
The Health and Child Care Ministry and WHO will begin administering 320 000 typhoid conjugate vaccines in November.