The rising cases of Cholera across Africa have forced the World Health Association ( WHO) to adopt a new strategy for administering the cholera vaccines; now, one dose instead of the usual two per person.
Earlier this month, the UN health agency said the “strained global supply of cholera vaccines” had pushed the International Coordinating Group (ICG), — arm of the agency that manages emergency supplies of vaccines— to switch from the two-dose regimen to one.
“The pivot in strategy will allow for the doses to be used in more countries, at a time of the unprecedented rise in cholera outbreaks worldwide,” WHO said in a statement.
“29 countries have reported outbreaks this year, including 13 countries that did not have outbreaks last year,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus further told reporters.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection of the small intestine that can lead to death from dehydration. It is usually contracted from contaminated food or water containing vibrio cholera bacteria.
The statement pointed out that “the global trend is moving towards more numerous, more widespread and more severe outbreaks, due to floods, droughts, conflict, population movements and other factors that limit access to clean water and raise the risk of cholera outbreaks,”
A tough decision to make
While the decision to cut from two doses to one did not come easy, WHO and other ICG members — Doctors Without Borders (MSF), UNICEF, and the Red Cross — iterated a one-dose strategy for cholera vaccines that was effective in response to outbreaks
However, the agency warns it’s still unclear how long the one dose is effective, especially in children,
When two doses are administered within six months of the first, immunity against infection lasts three years.
“The benefit of supplying one dose still outweighs no doses,” the statement said.
The World Health Organization warned that the current supply of cholera vaccines was “extremely limited.”
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