A major vaccination campaign to halt the spread of cholera starts is on in Borno state, where dozens have been killed as a cholera outbreak sweeps through camps for people displaced by Boko Haram violence.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organisation have delivered 915,005 doses of oral cholera vaccine for use in the campaign.
The plan for Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is to vaccinate everyone over age one in coming days in Muna, a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri as well as in three council areas—Jere, Monguno and Dikwa.
“The Federal Government …and partners supporting the Borno State Ministry of Health in leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the current cholera outbreak in some parts of Borno state is contained shortly,” said NCDC chief executive officer Chikwe Ihekweazu.
“The Government at all levels is working closely with partners to improve the sanitation situation, conducting hygiene promotion and disinfection of the affected areas including Muna, Custom house, Monguno and Farm centre IDPs camp, Dikwa, Konduga, Jere LGAs and Maiduguri Municipal Council.”
More than 2,600 cases suspected to be cholera have been reported by September 16 after heavy rains and lack of access to safe water.
More than 40 people have died in Borno since the first case on the camps was confirmed in mid-August.
Muna camp, housing more than 20,000 displaced people on the outskirts of Maiduguri, is worst hit
The number of suspected cholera cases has also increased dramatically in Dikwa and Monguno areas in the past few weeks, said the WHO in a statement.
The decision to send cholera vaccines from the global stockpile was taken on 7 September by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) for Vaccine Provision.
“Thousands of people in these camps have already left their homes to flee violence and terror. They now find themselves at risk of cholera,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“These lifesaving vaccines will play a vital role in slowing the spread of the disease, buying valuable time to put the right water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure in place to stop the root causes of this outbreak,” he added.
“WHO and partners are already making a difference by alerting people of the risks of cholera, supporting the early detection of cases, treating cases and taking other steps to end the outbreak,” said Dr Wondi Alemu, WHO Representative in Nigeria.
“We are focusing on delivering a single dose to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. As we proceed with this vaccination campaign, we hope to contain this outbreak, and support the collective commitment by partners from the health sector and other sectors to help people in Borno state. Then we can move forward with addressing the myriad of other pressing health needs in Borno.”
Gavi, WHO and partners are working with the NCDC and Borno State Ministry of Health to make the vaccine available free-of-cost to affected populations, while supporting ongoing cholera prevention and preparedness.