WHO kicks off massive cholera campaign for Rohingyas at Cox’s Bazar

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New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday launched a oral cholera vaccination campaign at camps inhabited by the Rohingyas in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar to protect the community members from the infection.

For the campaign, claimed to be the second largest ever, 900,000 doses of the vaccines have been mobilised and are being delivered by over 200 mobile vaccination teams.

The initiative — led by the Indian Ministry of Health and supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF — is being held in Ukhiya and Teknaf, where more than half a million people have arrived from across the border since August.

“The first round of the campaign will cover 650,000 people aged one year and older. The second round will commence on October 31 and will target 250,000 children between one and five years with an additional dose of the vaccine for added protection,” said a WHO statement here.

“Emergency vaccination saves lives. The risk of cholera is clear and present, and the need for decisive action apparent,” said N. Paranietharan, WHO Representative to Bangladesh.

Paranietharan said the WHO is committed to mobilising its full technical and operational capacity to support the ministry and partners to protect, promote and secure the health of this immensely vulnerable population.

At least 10,292 cases of diarrhoea have been reported from across the settlements and camps, the WHO said last week.

The WHO has warned of the potential for an outbreak of cholera.

“UNICEF and WHO are supporting the Ministry of Health with planning, distribution, volunteer orientation, operational costs and monitoring,” the WHO said.

According to the global health organisation, this is the second largest oral vaccination campaign in the world after Haiti in 2016.

As part of the ongoing campaign, 150 teams have been deployed in Ukhiya to vaccinate the target population, while 55 teams have been deployed in Teknaf. Each team comprises five members.

“Though vaccination can provide life-saving protection against cholera, it supplements but does not replace other traditional cholera control measures such as access to clean water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene,” said the WHO statement.

–IANS

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