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Somalia receives 1.4 million oral cholera vaccine vials amid outbreak surge

Monday April 1, 2024

Catherine Mumbi/CAFOD/Flickr

MOGADISHU (HOL) —  Somalia received 1.4 million vials of oral cholera vaccine on Sunday, valued at US$2.5 million, in a bid to quell an ongoing outbreak of the disease. The initiative comes as the nation grapples with a surge in cholera cases, with 4,388 people infected and 54 fatalities reported since January. 

The vaccines, procured through the UN children's agency UNICEF, are set to be distributed to five high-incidence districts across the country. Notably, Bossaso in Puntland state, which has the highest case fatality rate, will receive 700,000 vials. The other targeted districts are Daynile, Mahady, Buurhakaba, and Balcad.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that this year's reported cases are triple the average documented during the same period over the past three years. In 2023, over 18,300 cumulative cases and 46 fatalities were recorded, with over half affecting children under five years old.

In addition to the vaccine rollout, UNICEF is providing 40 cholera kits to cater to approximately 4,000 individuals. Each kit contains cholera treatment drugs and essential equipment. Concurrently, UNICEF and its partners are intensifying efforts to bolster water, sanitation, and hygiene services in affected areas while educating communities on preventive measures.

The surge in cholera cases is primarily attributed to El Niño-induced floods towards the end of last year, which displaced 1.2 million people. However, Somalia has been battling persistent cholera transmission since 2016, fueled by dense population clusters lacking access to safe water and adequate sanitation, internal population movements, and migration across borders. Aid workers are concerned about a potential case spike with the impending April-June Gu rainy season.

In anticipation of the rains, health officials and partners have increased their preparedness and response efforts, guided by a six-month action plan worth $5.9 million.

Cholera, an acute intestinal infection spread through contaminated food and water, primarily from fecal matter, can be prevented through freely administered oral vaccines, including to children.


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