Wednesday June 15, 2022
Somalia and the United Nations agencies on Tuesday started a
five-day campaign to vaccinate 934,511 people against cholera in nine high-risk
districts that are currently facing ongoing outbreaks of cholera.
The Ministry of Health and partners including the World
Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF said the first round of the oral cholera
vaccination drive aims to vaccinate people including children above one year of
age, pregnant women and internally displaced persons.
"To prevent cholera outbreaks in a sustainable way, we
strongly advise affected communities to take two doses of cholera vaccine
orally," said the Minister of Health and Human Services Fawziya Abikar Nur
in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. "We are
urging our partners to assist us in improving access to water, sanitation, and
hygiene facilities for vulnerable communities and the general public."
Somalia has witnessed several cholera outbreaks since 2017
and these can be attributed to a large number of people having poor access to
safe water and sanitation services, and natural hazards, including drought and
floods, which have been further exacerbated by protracted conflict and
large-scale population displacement.
The UN said the ongoing drought in the country has had a
grave impact on Somalis -- while displacing more than 770,000 people
internally, it has dried up surface water sources and led to food insecurity in
communities, which increases the risk of cholera infection as well as other
"While we need to step up our collective response to
cholera and other waterborne diseases, especially in the areas of case
management, we have over 2,100 community health workers deployed in 78
districts, including in 24 drought-affected districts," said WHO Country
Representative for Somalia Mamunur Rahman Malik.
Some 4,887 suspected cases of cholera, with 16 associated
deaths, had been reported from 21 drought-affected districts in Somalia as of
May 15, the UN said.
Around 62 percent of these cases were children aged below five
years, while around half of the cases were females.
The UN said the second round of the oral cholera vaccination
campaign will be conducted within a few weeks following the completion of the
first round of the oral cholera vaccination campaign.
The populations that received the first dose will be
targeted to receive the second dose during the next round of the campaign to
boost the affected population's immunity, it said.
"Parents and caregivers can take life-saving preventive
measures for their children by taking them to get the cholera vaccine drops.
Children are very susceptible to preventable diseases like cholera, especially
with low access to water during this drought," said UNICEF Somalia
Representative Angela Kearney.