Skip to content

WHO kicks off largest cholera vaccination campaign in Africa

Gavi Alliance/Duncan Graham-Rowe| The cholera vaccination campaign gets underway in Mtendera, Zambia

The largest cholera vaccination drive in history targeting two million people across Africa is underway, the United Nations announced on Monday, in response to a series of recent deadly outbreaks of the water-borne disease.

The campaign which targets two million people in Malawi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia will run until the end of June, WHO said.

WHO head Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said the oral vaccines were critical in stemming the tide of cholera outbreaks in the continent.

“Oral cholera vaccines are a key weapon in our fight against cholera,” said Ghebreyesus. But there are many other things we need to do to keep people safe.”

Ghebreyesus also emphasized the need for the provision of clean water, good sanitation, health training for the people working in the health facilities and community engagement to prevent the spread of the disease.

Oral cholera vaccine is normally administered in two doses. The first gives protection for six months, the second for between three and five years.

“Every rainy season, cholera springs up and brings devastation to communities across Africa,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa. “With this historic cholera vaccination drive, countries in the region are demonstrating their commitment to stopping cholera from claiming more lives. We need to build on this momentum through a multisectoral approach and ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, no matter where they are located.”

The vaccines are funded by the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership known as Gavi, and were sourced from the global stockpile.