The Laos Ministry of Health has launched the first ever cholera vaccination campaign in Lao PDR targeting flood-affected communities.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization are supporting the effort.
During the first phase of the cholera vaccination campaign from 23 to 30 August, about 5,000 doses were administered to flood-affected communities in Sanamxai district. An additional 19,700 doses will be used in a second round. In total, 12,350 people will receive the two doses of the vaccine administered in two phases of this campaign until September 2018.
“Cholera is a devastating disease which can spreads quickly and kills fast. Increased risks can be seen after severe flooding. The Ministry of Health has been monitoring 15 communicable diseases to protect against potential outbreaks, and this vaccination campaign along with the efforts made to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) will protect the people living in the shelters,” stated Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, Health Minister.
“Considering the water and sanitation conditions in the overcrowded shelters and the increased risk of disease outbreaks during this rainy season, we need to support the Ministry of Health to take all possible measures to prevent cholera and other water and vector borne diseases. There is not currently a cholera outbreak in the country, but preventive measures are to be taken given the circumstances,” said Dr Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative to Lao PDR.
For the cholera vaccination campaign, seven mobile teams, comprising of 3-4 members, and other two teams based in the primary camp in Sanamxay district are carrying out the vaccination activities covering emergency shelters and host communities through door-to-door service. Teams are also organizing awareness sessions and spreading messages on hygiene, food preparation, management of acute diarrhea and oral rehydration.
Cholera is a serious bacterial disease that usually causes acute severe diarrhea and dehydration. It is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with fecal material that contains the bacterium Vibrio Cholera. It affects both children and adults and can kill within hours. The short incubation period of two hours to five days, enhances the potentially explosive pattern of outbreaks.
Cholera occurs mainly in areas where there is open defecation, poor sanitation and personal hygiene, and a lack of clean drinking water. In some areas where latrines and toilet areas are in close proximity, it can contaminate surface water, shallow dug wells and boreholes including piped water; when a person’s hands contaminated with fecal material touches food, fruits or in contact with stored water.
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