Lebanon has received its first batch of cholera vaccines as part of the international effort to help curb the spread of the life-threatening disease in the country amid an ongoing outbreak, Health Minister Firas Abiad announced.
The 13,440 doses of Sanofi-produced vaccines, supported by the French government, would “play a key role in limiting the spread of cholera”, Xinhua news agency quoted Abiad as saying to reporters on Monday.
The batch will be administered to frontline health workers across Lebanon, said French Ambassador to Lebanon Anne Grillo, adding her country will support Lebanon’s effort with the World Health Organization (WHO) to get more doses in November.
Lebanon has so far tallied 388 cholera cases, including 17 deaths.
The country reported on October 6 the first two lab-confirmed cases in the northern part of the country, representing its first cholera outbreak since 1993.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends the use of cholera vaccines in line with other preventive measures such as the supply of clean water and sanitation, said earlier this month that the strained global supply of jabs prompted it to reduce the standard two-dose provision to one dose.
Monday’s development comes a day after Abiad had warned that cholera could become “endemic” in the country if it failed to curb the spread of the disease.
He however, said the “epidemic is still in its infancy and can be stopped”.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, and the supply of safe water and sanitation is critical to the prevention and control of its transmission, according to the WHO.