CHOLERA: WHO warns against vaccination complacency

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By Idah Mhetu

LOCAL authorities must continue to improve sanitation and the availability of clean water to prevent cholera as vaccination is not 100 percent effective, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The latest cholera outbreak to hit Zimbabwe claimed some 55 lives with suspected cases reaching more than 9,000 countrywide.

Government says the situation is under control after declaring a state of emergency and launching a vaccination campaign with the support of the WHO and other international partners.

The vaccination campaign targeted 1.4 million people, focussing mainly in Harare were the outbreak started.

However, the WHO has warned that the vaccination campaign will not end the crisis.

“Local authorities should also try and improve the water and sanitation especially in affected cities once the vaccination process is over,” said WHO official Marc Poncic recently.

“Individuals taking the cholera vaccine should also have access to clean water when they receive the vaccine and should also practice good personal hygiene or else it will come back.

WHO Advocacy and Information Officer, Zorodzai Machekanyanga added; “The cholera vaccine does not protect one 100 percent if they do not practice good personal hygiene, so the public should be cautious in trying to eradicate the disease.”

The outbreak started in the Harare high-density suburbs of Glen View and Budiriro with isolated cases stemming from the two areas have also been reported in other parts of the country.

Authorities blamed the outbreak burst sewers that contaminated borehole water used by the residents in Budiroro.

Cholera frequently hits Zimbabwe with the most serious recent outbreak in August 2008 lasting for 9 months and claiming more than 4,000 lives.