FREETOWN, 15 September 2017 – Sierra Leone’s first ever Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) campaign kicked off today, September 15th 2017. The emergency campaign targets communities affected by Western Area’s severe floods and landslides, which left over 6,000 people displaced and caused over 500 confirmed deaths.
“The cholera vaccine is safe and available free of cost for everyone living in the affected communities who is over 1 year of age,” said Dr. Brima Kargbo, Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. “We encourage people in these areas to take the two required doses of the vaccine, which will significantly increase protection against this life-threatening disease.”
Two doses of the vaccine are needed to maximize protection against cholera. The first dose will be administered from 15th to 20th September and the second from 5th to 10th October. It will be available at health facilities and from health workers who will be going house-to-house in the affected communities and camps.
“Risks of cholera can increase after severe flooding and Sierra Leone has experienced severe outbreaks in the past,” said Alexander Chimbaru, Officer in-Charge of the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone. “In such situations, the cholera vaccine can be a valuable tool to reduce risks, alongside ongoing efforts to improve access to safe water, good hygiene practices and sanitation.”
Catchment communities targeted for the vaccine were selected on the basis of detailed risk assessments and include: Regent, Charlotte, Leicester, Awake, George Brook, Grey Bush, Hill Station, Iscon, Jenner wright, KingHarmann Road, Kroobay, Lumley, Mabella, Moa Wharf, PAYCY, Pentagon, SLIMS, Konikay, Stella Maries, Susan’s Bay, Macauley St, Moyeba, UMC Urban Center and Kingtom Police.
Dr. Dafae, Director of Disease Prevention and Control at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation reiterated that it remains important to practice good hygiene and sanitation, even for those who take the vaccine. Preventive measures for diarrheal diseases include: drinking only safe water that has been properly boiled or treated, practicing proper sanitation and food hygiene, and seeking prompt treatment at the nearest health facility if sick.
WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, UKAid and other health partners are working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to implement the campaign, which aims to reach a total of 500,000 people.
OCV has been used successfully in several other countries in the past to increase protection against cholera, with Haiti, Guinea, Malawi, South Sudan and Ethiopia having conducted recent OCV campaigns.
At the Ministry of Health and Sanitation
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