Cholera threat casts shadow over Mozambique

Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai

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. "Humanitarian teams are acting quickly to raise awareness in communities about symptoms and prevention methods, including hygiene practices and the important need for the vaccinations, particularly in the current conditions which include stagnant water and overcrowding in temporary shelters", said Michel Le Pechoux, the deputy representative of Unicef Mozambique.

The announcement of the financing line arose about three weeks after Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Idai, which killed at least 598 people and injured 1,641, and affected a total of 1.3 million people in the central region, according to the latest tally by Mozambican authorities.

Between 27 March and 07.00 on Tuesday, 1,428 cholera cases entered the treatment units. They were taken from the global cholera vaccine stockpile, which is fully-funded by Gavi.

Also, cholera is endemic to Mozambique, which has had regular outbreaks over the past five years.

As floodwaters start receding, authorities warned of a "second disaster" from cholera and other diseases, which transmits through contaminated food and drinking water. About 2 000 people were infected in the last outbreak, which ended in February 2018.

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Already the number of cholera cases is more than double the 500 beds set up for patients in Beira that is the center of relief efforts for central Mozambique.

To forestall a major epidemic, WHO is supporting the ministry of health to coordinate the oral cholera vaccination campaign, including working with partners to ensure an appropriate cold chain storage and provide logistical support.

Nearly 900,000 doses of the cholera vaccine arrived in Beira yesterday. "The key thing is to make sure that people can access rapid treatment and clean water and sanitation".

Participants also discussed how to support a well-coordinated response, focusing on immediate humanitarian needs, as well as sustainable medium and long-term recovery and reconstruction in the aftermath of the cyclone.

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