Mogadishu, Somalia – the Somali Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced on Sunday the commencement of a five-day cholera vaccination campaign in five districts.
The campaign aims to reach a total of 590,803 individuals aged one year and above, with a particular focus on protecting pregnant mothers.
The joint statement emphasized the importance of this single-dose reactive cholera vaccination campaign, which will run from August 12 to 16 in Jubaland State, specifically targeting the Mandela Triangle. This region, located along the border of Kenya and Ethiopia, has been identified as a high-risk area for cholera transmission.
Minister of Health of Jubaland State, Ismail Ahmed Garas, expressed determination in the face of Somalia’s weak and fragile health system, stating, “Our resolve to save lives is firm, and together with our trusted partners, we are hopeful that this intervention will help stop the transmission of cholera and measles and save scores of precious lives.”
The oral cholera vaccine program will be implemented in coordination with border communities in Ethiopia and Kenya, focusing on the districts of Afmadow, Belet Hawo, Luuq, Doolow, and Dhobley.
By extending the vaccination efforts across borders, the campaign aims to create a protective barrier against the spread of cholera.
Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia, highlighted the urgency of the situation, stating, “Somalia may have avoided famine, but not illness, as the protracted drought continues to have a significant and life-threatening impact on the nation’s population, particularly in the Mandela Triangle.”
He further emphasized the need to act swiftly, saying, “It’s a race against time to try to prevent major cholera and measles outbreaks. Because cholera and measles are infectious, they may quickly spread, and we can’t afford to sit back and let this emerging tragedy get out of hand.”
Cholera and measles pose serious threats to public health, particularly in regions with limited access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare facilities.
The vaccination campaign represents a crucial step towards curbing the transmission of these diseases and safeguarding the well-being of affected communities.
The collaboration between the Somali Ministry of Health, WHO, and UNICEF underscores the commitment to mitigating the impact of the ongoing health crisis in Somalia. By proactively addressing the risk of cholera outbreaks, they aim to prevent further devastation and protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant mothers.
As the five-day vaccination campaign unfolds, it is hoped that the combined efforts of local authorities and international organizations will yield positive results, curbing the spread of cholera and measles and saving lives in the process.