THE Government will next Monday roll-out a massive cholera vaccination programme to prevent the spread of the diarrhoeal disease that has affected more than 20 000 people since its outbreak in February last year.
This was said by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora during a Government meets the media programme at the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services boardroom in Harare yesterday.
As of Monday, at least 20 121 cases of cholera and suspected cases of the disease had been recorded since the outbreak resulting in the deaths of 447 people.
“Our ministry has successfully applied for the allocation of oral cholera vaccines from the international coordinating group on vaccine provision.
“The decision to allocate 2,3 million vaccines was made on January 12 this year with the initial 892 286 doses coming into the country by January 28. The vaccination campaign is expected to start on January 29 in phases starting with the hotspots.
“This is because the doses are not enough to cover the whole country so we will start with the hotspots and roll-out to other areas as we receive more and more vaccines,” Dr Mombeshora said.
The minister said they would only administer a single dose of the vaccine due to high demand with 37 countries on the continent experiencing outbreaks of the disease.
“It’s (the distribution) now being controlled by the World Health Organisation to ensure that all the countries get some otherwise the rich countries will buy out all the vaccines before others get them,” Dr Mombeshora said.
He assured the nation of the safety of the vaccine saying it has been in use for a long time.
The vaccine will be given orally to people aged one year and above and will protect them for at least six months instead of the three years achieved if one takes two doses.
“We will be targeting the hotspot areas otherwise known as prioritised areas for multi-sectoral interventions where cases are being recorded countrywide and these areas include targeted districts in Harare, Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland East and Central.
“The targeted districts include Mutare Rural and Urban, Buhera, Gutu, Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Uzumba Maramba-Pfungwe, Mazowe, Mbire, Mt Darwin, high density suburbs of Kuwadzana, Budiriro, Southlea Park, Glen View and Mbare, Highfield, Glen Norah and Chitungwiza,” Dr Mombeshora said.
The Minister said Government had developed a roadmap to eliminate incidents of cholera in the country.
“Zimbabwe has developed a multi-sectoral roadmap (2018-2028) that lays out a clear pathway for cholera control and elimination in our country.
“This roadmap states the need to revamp water and reticulation systems in our cities and provision of water in Harare which has grown and improvement of sanitation facilities in our rural communities.
“This requires a multi-sectoral approach to eliminate cholera as a public health threat to Zimbabwe,” he said.
Dr Mombeshora said the vaccination programme was a temporary solution to the problem with investment in provision of clean water and sanitation, elimination of open defecation and removal of solid waste being the long-term solutions to the problem.
In his remarks, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said Government had initiated various mechanisms to deal with cholera and solid waste management.
“Central Government under the leadership of President Mnangagwa has managed to implement a number of measures in order to have a practical, achievable waste management plan under the Ministry of Environment and has appointed Dr Anxious Masuka (Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development) as a committee chair of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector and also focusing on Harare water,” Dr Muswere said.
He added that all the Government interventions were a result of a failure by the opposition-led Harare City Council to collect garbage and provide clean water.
Through “Operation Chenesa Harare”, Government has been clearing uncollected garbage at various places in the capital until the council comes up with a sustainable solid waste management plan.