ZIMBABWE—Zimbabwe’s government has initiated a cholera vaccine campaign in partnership with UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
These vaccine donations were made possible by the financial support of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, whose commitment to global health equity has helped Zimbabwe gain access to life-saving immunizations.
The first three batches of 892,286 cholera vaccines arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport through air freight on January 25 and 27.
The batches were immediately dispersed to the country’s worst impacted districts, with additional deliveries anticipated in the coming days.
Cholera vaccines are an additional technique being implemented by the Zimbabwean government to combat the spread of cholera.
Dr Douglas Mombeshora, the Honorable Minister of Health and Child Care, administered the first cholera vaccines during an event in Kuwadzana, one of the most affected areas of the current cholera outbreak, in the presence of Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative, and Professor Jean-Marie Dangou, WHO Country Representative.
The cholera vaccine used in Zimbabwe is the Euvichol-Plus vaccine, which is manufactured by EuBiologics and is administered orally. One dose of vaccine protects against cholera infections for at least six months.
The cholera vaccine program in Zimbabwe aims to reach 2.3 million individuals aged one year and up who live in 160 wards across 26 high-risk districts in seven provinces.
These provinces are Harare, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Masvingo, and Midlands considered to be the to be the primary cause of the epidemic.
The primary operational strategy utilized in this campaign is house-to-house to reduce gatherings and the spread of the disease.
This is supplemented by fixed immunization stations at all health facilities in the catchment area.
Each vaccination team is made up of three people and is supposed to vaccinate an average of 150 people every day.
Prior to the initiation of the immunization, a comprehensive social mobilization campaign had been launched to raise awareness and demand for the vaccine.
While the cholera vaccine offers increased protection against infections, it is crucial to emphasize that it does not replace existing cholera prevention strategies.
These measures include regular hand washing with flowing safe water, drinking treated or boiling water, properly disposing of solid, liquid, and human waste, and following to food hygiene standards.
Since the initial cases were reported about a year ago, Zimbabwe has registered over 20,000 suspected cholera cases, as well as over 400 confirmed and suspected deaths.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care Care has launched a multisectoral cholera response strategy in coordination with other Government Ministries, with support from UNICEF, WHO, partners, and donors.
This plan will focus on simplifying response coordination at all levels, treating affected persons, and preventing disease transmission through increased access to potable water, sanitation, personal and food hygiene, as well as the dissemination of preventive messages to the most vulnerable populations.