COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH / DUBLIN, 10 October 2017 – A massive cholera immunisation campaign started today near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to protect newly arrived Rohingya and host communities from the life-threatening diarrheal disease. 900,000 doses of the vaccine have been mobilised and are being delivered by more than 200 mobile vaccination teams, making it the second largest oral cholera vaccination campaign ever. UNICEF teams are on the ground working to ensure these vaccines are delivered and administered as quickly as possible.
The campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health and supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. It is being rolled out in Ukhiya and Teknaf, where more than half a million people have arrived from across the border since August, joining vast numbers already residing in a series of settlements and camps.
The first round of the campaign will cover 650,000 people aged one year and older. The second round will commence on 31 October and will target 250,000 children between one and five years with an additional dose of the vaccine for added protection.
“This is the second largest oral vaccination campaign in the world after Haiti in 2016,” says Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh. “Cholera is a dangerous disease, especially among children living in cramped, unhygienic conditions. Prevention is essential.”
In the last week, at least 10,292 cases of diarrhoea have been reported and treated from across the settlements and camps. WHO has warned of the potential for a cholera outbreak.
UNICEF and WHO are supporting the Ministry of Health with planning, distribution, volunteer orientation, operational costs and monitoring.
“Emergency vaccination saves lives. The risk of cholera is clear and present, and the need for decisive action apparent,” says Dr. N Paranietharan, WHO Representative to Bangladesh. “WHO is committed to mobilising its full technical and operational capacity to support the Ministry and our partners to protect, promote and secure the health of this immensely vulnerable population.”
In Ukhiya 150 teams have been deployed to vaccinate the target population, while 55 teams have been deployed in Teknaf. Each team is comprised of five members.
UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said: “This catastrophe has left 200,000 Rohingya children struggling to survive in terrible conditions after fleeing violence. They are living out in the open with no shelter, food or clean water. Some 1,000 children have arrived to camps on their own and are in terrible danger. UNICEF is on the ground, working to save children’s lives in myriad different ways, a vital part of that work is administering cholera vaccines.”
Though vaccination can provide life-saving protection against cholera, it supplements but does not replace other traditional cholera control measures such as access to clean water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene.
To help meet present water, sanitation and hygiene needs, UNICEF is working to scale up its interventions and communication on safe practices, and is pre-positioning critical supplies for case management. WHO is monitoring water quality and working with the Department of Public Health Engineering to increase local laboratory capacity, has raised an early warning alert and response emergency surveillance system, and has pre-positioned life-saving supplies to ensure a rapid response if and when an outbreak occurs. In addition, the WHO-led Health Sector has supported the Ministry to set up diarrhea treatment centres among other response-oriented interventions.
NOTES TO EDITOR
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UNICEF is the United Nations’ organisation for children. It was established in the aftermath of World War II to help refugee children. Today UNICEF fights for children’s rights and promotes the well-being of every child in over 190 countries worldwide. UNICEF began operating in Ireland in 1962. UNICEF Ireland is funded by voluntary donations.
For more information, please contact:
Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272
Jean Jacques Simon, UNICEF Bangladesh | email@example.com | +880 01713043478
AM Sakil Faizullah, UNICEF Bangladesh | firstname.lastname@example.org | +880 1713 049900
Faria Selim, UNICEF Bangladesh | email@example.com | +880 1817 586 096
Michael Vurens van Es, WHO, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh | firstname.lastname@example.org | +880 1730 032 329
Shamila Sharma, WHO South-East Asia Regional Office | email@example.com | +91 9818287256
Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Spokesperson in Geneva, currently in Bangladesh | +41 799639244, +880 1700704104