Cholera: Gov’t requests oral vaccines from WHO to break transmission

Government has initiated discussions with the World Health Organisation for the introduction of vaccines to bring the outbreak of the cholera disease in the country under control.

Health facilities are currently struggling to contain the outbreak of the epidemic which has so far claimed 92 lives from over 10,000 reported cases in just three months. The disease has now spread to 52 districts across seven regions of the country, excluding the three northern regions- Northern, Upper East and Upper West.

But Deputy Health Minister, Victor Bampoe disclosed on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Tuesday, government is determined to ensure that rate of transmission is considerably brought under control through the introduction of the oral cholera vaccine.

“We’ve asked the WHO to do a rapid assessment to see whether we can use the cholera vaccine to break the back of this epidemic,” Dr. Bampoe told Kojo Yankson, host of the Show.

The Deputy Minister added: “What we are thinking of is because it has not affected the three northern-most regions, can we make the vaccines to create a barrier so it doesn’t go up or can we use the vaccines in areas that they have a great endemicity so that we can actually strategically vaccinate some people and break this transmission”.

He stated it is “clearly unacceptable” for people to be dying of a disease that “should not be with us in 2014”.  

Dr. Bampoe assured: “The Ministry of Health, working with other sectors will ensure that we break this transmission because it’s not something that in 2014 should be with us”.

“We probably would see more cases but the most important thing is to control it…whatever needs to be done would be done to ensure that we dampen it out,” he said.

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

The main symptoms are watery diarrhea and vomiting. This may result in dehydration and in severe cases grayish-bluish skin. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the faeces (waste product) of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms.

The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, and death in some cases. The primary treatment is oral rehydration therapy, typically with oral rehydration solution, to replace water and electrolytes.

If this is not tolerated or does not provide improvement fast enough, intravenous fluids can also be used. Antibacterial drugs are beneficial in those with severe disease to shorten its duration and severity.

Worldwide, it affects 3–5 million people and causes 100,000–130,000 deaths a year as of 2010.

Story by Ghana | | Jerry Tsatro Mordy | [email protected]

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