Government will on Sunday receive 900 000 doses of vaccines to combat the cholera pandemic bedeviling Harare.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
So far there are 500 000 doses in Government’s possession to be used in vaccinating people in affected areas. This brings the total number of vaccines to 1, 4 million within a space of one week.
The outbreak which to date has claimed 49 lives was declared an emergency disaster last month by Health and Childcare minister Dr Obadiah Moyo. Government today launched the National Oral Cholera Vaccine in Budiriro 1, Harare. The number of people affected by the bacteria is close to 10 000.
“At the moment we have 500 000 vaccination doses. We will start vaccination here in Budiriro and Glen View and we will be going into other suburbs in Harare. We are not going to end with Harare. There are wondering why we are starting in Harare, but the reason is that the Capital is the Epicentre where the outbreak emerged,” said the Minister.
The Minister noted that health workers will be vaccinated first for they are the ones taking care of infected patients.
“We will see to it that our health workers get the vaccines first for they are working with cholera patients. So if they get vaccinated they will not contract the disease. We will make sure that all our health workers receive these doses,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been battling the cholera pandemic with the bacteria strain said to be more resistant than the 2008 crisis.
Minister Moyo said they are expecting 900 000 doses on Sunday.
“Further, there are 900 000 more vaccines to arrive in the country on Sunday. This adds up to 1, 4 million. Then there will be 1, 4 million more to come which cumulatively adds up to 2, 8 million doses,” he said.
The Health Minister explained that the doses will protect Zimbabweans against the menacing bacteria for the next five years.
“You are required to get two vaccines in six months. So if you get a does today, you are expected to get another dose before the end of six months. These vaccines will protect you in the next five years. So it lasts for five years. So found it important to protect our people in cholera affected areas,” said Dr Moyo.
World Health Organisation Representative Dr Julius Wekesa lauded Government for quickly announcing the cholera outbreak saying it allowed international and local partners to intervene before the situation got out of hand.
The vaccines have been provided by WHO. Vaccine consultant Dr Marc Poncin said the vaccines do not offer permanent protection but WHO believes the years of protection it offers will give government sufficient time to resolve the underlying sanitation issues behind behind the utbreak.
“The vaccine is not the answer to cholera situation on the long term but this gives time to government,” he said.