By Cheruto Valentine

Somalia launched a week-long immunization campaign from Saturday, June 22nd using oral cholera vaccines (OCV). The campaign is being run in high-risk areas of Somalia to prevent recurring cholera outbreaks in the country.

This campaign, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of Africa’s largest immunization campaigns using OCVs. It aims to have more than 650,000 people aged one year and above vaccinated in order to eliminate the risk of the disease among vulnerable populations. The high risk districts where the door to door campaign is being conducted are Heliwa, Kahda, Harmajajab, Balad,Afgoye and Kismayo.

WHO Representative in Somalia, Dr.Mamunur Rehman Malik, said that they remain committed to keeping the country free from future cholera outbreaks.

“No one should die of cholera in the 21st century, especially when we have an affordable and easily administrable cure. It remains our collective responsibility to save lives and end cholera in Somalia,” added Dr. Malik.

Somali health authorities and WHO are conducting the campaign with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Task Force for Cholera Control.

“Cholera remains one of our major public health threats. We now have the means and solutions to end cholera in Somalia. We continue to work with WHO and our other partners to save lives and prevent cholera on a long-term sustainable basis,” said Dr.FauziyaAbikarNur, Minister of Health in Somalia.

Since the onset of the current cholera outbreak in January 2019, there have been 1041 reported cases of suspected cholera in 25 districts of the states located in the basins of the Jubba and Shabelle rivers.

In 2017, the country faced one of the largest outbreaks in its history, with 78 784 cases, including 1159 deaths. A year later, the number of reported cases of cholera reduced in the country to 6448 reported cases and 45 related deaths. This was largely attributed to improved disease surveillance and case management.

According to WHO, the case-fatality rate, a measure of the severity of a disease, dropped from 1.47 per cent in 2017 to 0.69 per cent in 2018. Case-fatality rate is defined as the proportion of confirmed deaths of a specified disease or condition.Currently, in 2019, the overall case-fatality rate from cholera in Somalia is 0.09 per cent.