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Cholera Outbreaks Recurrent Public Health Challenge , Ehanire

…Hails WHO For Organizing Training On Integration Of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV)

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said that cholera outbreaks has become a recurrent public health challenge in many low and lower middle income countries, like ours, despite efforts at control.

While applauding the World Health Organization (WHO) for organizing training on the integration of the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) in emergency and preventative settings, he added that this noble and worthwhile project is a tool for cholera prevention and control.

He did note, however, that vaccine availability has been limited, which has hampered its use and the much-anticipated impact on Nigeria.

He said, the first recorded appearance of cholera at epidemic level in Nigeria was in 1972, with gradually increasing numbers of outbreaks over the years, along with marked mortality and morbidity, and expenses associated with treatment and management.

Ehanire added that, the traditional measures for cholera prevention and control have been to provide potable water and improve hygiene and sanitation. Science has however, over the years, risen to the task, with the development of oral cholera vaccine, now certified as effective enough to be recommended for disease prevention and control.

The Minister made this known at the WHO training on the integration of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) in emergency and preventative contexts on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, “I am delighted to welcome you all to Nigeria for this important training, aimed to integrate oral cholera vaccination into the emergency and preventive measures of our country.

“I commend the World Health Organisation (WHO) for this laudable and desirable initiative, a tool for prevention and control of cholera outbreaks, which has for some time now, become a recurrent seasonal public health challenge in many Low and lower middle income countries, like ours, despite efforts at control.

“I therefore welcome this training as a prelude to equitable access to this vaccine, and another step towards our goal of better Health for all. I believe it will strengthen our health system by reducing, or even removing one more public health nuisance by vaccination.

“I implore all participants to make best use of this opportunity and put in their best in the one week training to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to use the vaccine to eliminate cholera as a recurrent health problem.

“I conclude by again welcoming you all and appreciating the effort of the World Health Organisation in keeping us safe. All of you, especially those who are visiting Nigeria for the first time, can take the time and opportunity to also enjoy the sights and sounds of Abuja”, he stressed.

Also, the Director General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa reiterated the need for the early allocation and shipment of these vaccines to ensure these vaccinations and carries out sooner than later.

Represented by the NCDC Deputy , Director of Surveillance, Mr. Yenan Sebastian said Nigeria has just degraded its biggest Cholera outbreak which commenced in 2021 with over 100,000 suspected cases reported. We are mindful of the support by different partners/donors through WHO for the response, including reactive vaccination with over 1.7 million persons vaccinated each with 2 doses of Oral Cholera Vaccination(OCV) across 7 LGAs in 4 states of Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe and Zamfara.
Working in line with the preparedness towards future campaigns, we believe that the recently approved GTFCC application for Nigeria with approximately 9million doses of OCV to implement two campaigns in 14 LGAs in 9 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, would significantly mitigate the risk of and upsurge of cholera cases during this raining season.

Speaking on the challenges identified during 2021 annual GTFCC stakeholder meeting, including a) Poor quality reactive and preventative OCV campaign requests b) Lack of OCV use as an outbreak response in some settings and c) Inadequate monitoring and evaluation of OCV campaigns and need to be addressed sooner than later.

According to him, he said they are confident that the opportunity of this training for knowledge sharing from the three levels of the organization and the multiple country participants, will not only help improve on the gaps identified but also ensure that countries are better prepared to request, plan and implement quality campaigns with OCV as part of their national Cholera control plans and further contribute the long-term goal of Ending Cholera by 2030.

“Cholera control efforts is a holistic one including more than just vaccination. The need to address issues around WASH remains critical in the long term. This brings to bear the need to improved coordination of cholera control efforts and ensure that clean and safe water as well as improve hygienic practices as highlighted in the Cholera control plans are implemented in a sustainable manner to ensure we achieve the desired goal.

“We look forward to the outputs of this training and assure you of WHO Nigeria’s support to the Government of Nigeria in implementing the NCP (when finalized), including ensuring quality vaccination campaigns while also monitoring and evaluating the implementation of this plan”, he stated.

Also, the WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Walter Kazadi Mulombo said WHO Director General , Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has set priority for the next five years.

He said one of the key thing in the training is revisiting tools and system to prepare, detect and respond to outbreaks of future pandemic.

He added that , Director General called on all member states to embrace the one health approach.

Similarly, the Executive Director , National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Faisal Shuaib said, we had outbreak last year and the timely release of vaccines was very helpful.

Represented by Dr Bassey Okoposen said they have National Technical Working group, while reassuring WHO, others partners that the vaccines will be effectively made use of

In addition, Gavi Programme Officer, Allyson Russell said they are committed to support countries to control cholera around the world.

She said , they have supported countries with cholera vaccines for the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Focal point person for the OCV, Malika Bouhenia said the use of cholera vaccine is very important and has good impact on the control of cholera and other activities such as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

She said the use of vaccine keep increasing in many countries for outbreaks.

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