Friday, July 19, 2024

Nigeria Seeks Emergency Cholera Vaccines Amid Worsening Outbreak

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The Nigerian Federal Government is in discussions with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) to secure emergency oral cholera vaccine (OCV) supplies. This initiative comes as the country faces a cholera outbreak amidst a global vaccine shortage.

Dr. Jide Idris, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), revealed that Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, is leading these negotiations with GAVI.

The NCDC recently reported an increase in cholera cases and fatalities, now affecting 32 states and 115 local government areas. Nigeria employs three World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified vaccines—Dukoral, Shanchol, and Euvichol-Plus—requiring two doses for full protection.

Dr. Idris highlighted the critical role of GAVI in providing vaccines to low-income countries and emphasized the need for environmental cleanliness and hand hygiene alongside vaccination efforts. He noted the global demand surge and supply constraints affecting cholera control in endemic regions, including Nigeria.

The NCDC’s intensified public health campaigns focus on hygiene and clean water, but the vaccine shortage hinders mass immunization efforts. Dr. Idris called for stronger international collaboration to ensure timely vaccine distribution to vulnerable populations.

Cholera, a severe diarrheal disease from contaminated water or food, remains a significant health threat in Nigeria. The outbreak has led to numerous deaths and overwhelmed healthcare facilities. In 2021, Nigeria received over 3.5 million doses of OCV from WHO and requested an additional nine million doses in 2022.

Recent updates from the NCDC indicate 54 deaths and 1,579 suspected cases this year. The most affected states include Lagos, Bayelsa, and Abia. Dr. Muntari Hassan, NCDC’s Deputy Director of Surveillance, stressed the need for behavioral change and education to combat the outbreak effectively.

Nigeria’s Emergency Operations Centre, involving multiple ministries and international organizations, has been activated to coordinate the response to this crisis. The cholera situation underscores the urgent need for better sanitation, increased vaccine production, and infrastructure investment to address global health equity and preparedness.

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