War-torn Yemen to get cholera vaccines as death toll mounts
War-torn Yemen to get cholera vaccines as death toll mounts.
A spokesman for the World Health Organization said Wednesday that it didn’t initially want to publicize last week’s decision because questions remain about when and how the doses could reach the neediest people in a country sliced up along front lines and grappling with a nearly-collapsed health system.
WHO said the 1 million doses for Yemen were approved on June 15 by the International Coordinating Group, which manages vaccine stocks and includes the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance along with WHO.
Such a shipment would be the largest since 1 million doses were sent to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew last fall — and would amount to about half of the usual world stockpile, which would then be replenished.
Berkley said the doses could help slow the spread of the disease as part of a broader strategy to contain it.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Tuesday that a tally from the cholera outbreak between April 27 and June 19 turned up 170,286 suspected cases and 1,170 deaths.
For the vaccination campaign, the needs will include access to people in affected areas; "cold-chain facilities" because the vaccines require refrigeration; trained health workers; and "mobilization activities to prepare the communities to accept the vaccine," the agency said.
"Without treatment for malnutrition, more people will fall ill. And a child who survives cholera will be even further malnourished," he said.
Experts say that proper estimates of cholera cases are hard to come by in Yemen, and many cases could involve acute watery diarrhea, which has similar symptoms.
According to WHO, an estimated 1.4 billion people who live in countries where cholera is endemic are at risk of the disease each year.