GOVERNMENT begins rolling out a mass typhoid vaccination campaign intended to mitigate the menacing waterborne disease among its citizens.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
The implementation of this programme makes Zimbabwe the first African country to take up the large scale vaccination against typhoid which unlike other typhoid vaccines in September can be administered to young children and long lasting immunity.
Briefing the press, Health and Child care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo hoped the program to have coincided the same time as the first phase of the vaccination dose.
“I would like to point out that the typhoid vaccination programme is coming in a bit late. We would have loved for it to coincide with the Oral Vaccination Programme process. But whichever way we now have the opportunity, we now have the chance to be able to vaccinate our population,” he said.
This project will be targeting about 325 000 people in nine suburbs.
“In an effort to slow this surge in typhoid, the Zimbabwean Government through the Ministry of Health and Childcare in collaboration with its partners plans to vaccinate as I said 325 000 people. Ages 6 months to 15 years in eighty suburbs. Six months to 45 years in one suburb with Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine.
“And the most affected areas in Harare are Mufakose, Budiriro, Glen View, Kuwadzana and Mbare. We also noted with concern that typhoid cases in Harare were on the increase with the peak reached in December 2018. In order to spread of typhoid we have decided to introduce the typhoid conjugate vaccine in high risk areas while at the same time,” the Minister said.
This is the second wave of a major typhoid outbreak in Harare which began in October 2017. This second wave began in September 2018 and has so far resulted in 1810 cases and two deaths.
“So the total number of cases stand at 10 719 and typhoid is endemic in Harare with seasonal outbreaks every year since 2010. And over 1682 suspected and 39 confirmed cases of typhoid fever cases were recorded in Zimbabwe in the capital city Harare between September 2018 and mid-January this year,” said Dr Moyo.
According to GAVI, in November 2017, their board agreed to open a funding window of US$85 million to pay for the roll out of the new Conjugate Vaccine.
“Bharat Biotech International Limited became the first company to a vaccine prequalified by the WHO in December 2017 following which GAVI began to accept applications from countries for funding. This campaign in Harare is the first to be funded by Gavi. The Zimbabwean government is now working with partners including Gavi, on a potential future introduction into its routine immunization schedule,” said Gavi in a press statement.
World Health Organisation country representative Dr Alex Gasasira commended the nation for its swift response which saw expedient reaction.
With this rapid response, the cholera pandemic was controlled although some sporadic cases outside the hotspot Harare were traced to the hotspots, Budiriro and GlenView.