Cholera kills two in cyclone-hit Mozambique

Grant Boone
April 6, 2019

A vaccination campaign was launched in Mozambique's central city of Beira on Wednesday after a cyclone slammed into the region and unleashed an outbreak of cholera, authorities said.

Health officials have said that children, who are at the highest risk of dying from cholera, will get priority.

Worldwide relief agencies and the health ministry are hoping to immunise almost 900,000 people against the water-borne intestinal disease, which has already killed two people and infected more than 1,700.

The vaccination campaign, which World Health Organization officials said last week would initially immunise around 100,000 people, is due to extend outside of Beira in coming days.

Some 843 people were killed by the storm and subsequent flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

More than 2,300 people isolated since Cycone Idai struck Mozambique received a major delivery of Red Cross emergency supplies late yesterday. Of these cases, 959 are in Beira, where one death has also been confirmed, followed by Nhamatanda with 87 cases.

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Nine cholera treatment centres, with 500-bed capacity, are already admitting patients. "The oral cholera vaccine is a vital emergency measure that will help save lives and stop the spread of this awful disease". The disease, largely caused by the ingestion of contaminated food and water, "can turn a crisis like this into a full-blown catastrophe".

Nearly 900,000 doses of the cholera vaccine arrived in Beira yesterday.

"The key thing is to make sure that people can rapid treatment and clean water and sanitation".

Participants also discussed how to support a well-coordinated response, focusing on immediate humanitarian needs, as well as sustainable medium and long-term recovery and reconstruction in the aftermath of the cyclone.

"The oral cholera vaccine is a vital emergency measure that will help save lives and stop the spread of this disgusting disease", said World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Ghebreyesus.

According to the health agency, in the fifteen years between 1997 and 2012, just 1.5 million doses of oral cholera vaccine were used worldwide.

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