April 21, 2019

Cholera vaccination campaign launched in post-cyclone Mozambique

06 April 2019, 01:25 | Silvia Roy

Cholera threat casts shadow over Mozambique | UNICEF

Cholera infects 1,400 in cyclone-hit Mozambique

"Cyclone Idai, in terms of destruction and impact, was the worst ever seen on the African continent", the government said, adding that "the emergency aid plan includes preparing for a crisis and the decision to support Mozambique was taken in a matter of hours after receiving the worldwide aid request".

Nearly 2 million people in Mozambique are in desperate need of assistance, 1 million of them children, since Cyclone Idai made landfall there on 14-15 March. Now there are 1,428, majority in the hard-hit port city of Beira, which has been the hub of relief efforts since Cyclone Idai roared in on March 14. Al Jazeera quoted Kate Alberti, a cholera expert at the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying that the campaign will immunize around 900,000 people in four districts, including Beira, Buzi, Nhamatanda and Dondo, which were badly affected by Cyclone Idai last month.

Nine cholera treatment centres, with 500-bed capacity, are already admitting patients.

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Cholera was first reported in one of the city's poorest and most crowded neighborhoods, Munhava.

Cholera is spread through contaminated food or drinking water and causes acute diarrhoea.

"With this number of people vaccinated, it will greatly reduce the spread of the disease", she said at the launch of the drive.

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Almost 900,000 doses of the cholera vaccine, procured by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), arrived in Beira, Mozambique, on Tuesday afternoon and the vaccination campaign will begin imminently. A second round of the vaccine would be needed after several weeks' time for stronger protection, according to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders. By Tuesday, 598 people had been confirmed killed by the cyclone in Mozambique alone while Zimbabwe government reported its toll to have climbed to 268 - taking the toll to 866 between the two countries.

Officials have warned that the death toll is preliminary and the real figure may never be known as some bodies were buried quickly or swept away by the floodwaters.

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