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Zimbabwe mulling cholera vaccination to curb outbreak

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The Zimbabwean government is considering rolling out an oral cholera vaccination campaign, particularly in hot spots as part of the national response to the outbreak, an official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a media briefing on infection prevention and control in the country, Celestino Dhenge, the president of the Infection Control Association of Zimbabwe Trust (ICAZ-T) and provincial medical director for Mashonaland West Province, said Zimbabwe was taking steps to procure the vaccine to protect the population against cholera.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing a cholera outbreak since February this year, which has spread to all districts in the country, including in the capital Harare.

According to the Ministry of Health and Childcare, the country has recorded a total of 12,287 suspected cases and 62 confirmed deaths as of Monday this week.

Dhenge said vaccination was one of the priority options, in addition to strengthening water and sanitation provision to curb the outbreak.

However, vaccine procurement was being hampered by a shortage on the global market due to several outbreaks on the African continent, he said.

“Vaccination is definitely a very important intervention that we need. We have not yet started rolling out the vaccine because it is not in abundant supply due to cholera outbreaks in other countries. But the Zimbabwean government has already indicated that there is a need to vaccinate the population, particularly those in hot spots,” Dhenge said.

ICAZ-T projects director Alethea Mashamba said the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe was symptomatic of the general retrogression in Zimbabwe’s commitment to universal health coverage.

She called for increased domestic funding for infection prevention and control to ensure safe healthcare delivery and economic growth in the country.

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