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Zambia urgently works to control rapidly spreading cholera outbreak

Efforts are being made to stop the rapid expansion of the cholera outbreak in Zambia and save lives. A vaccination campaign is currently targeting 1.5 million people, including children, health workers, and those at high risk of infection in the worst affected areas.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and others, is supporting the Zambian government to roll out the oral cholera vaccination campaign and enhance ongoing outbreak control measures. Over 1.4 million cholera vaccine doses have been delivered to the country, with an additional 200,000 doses approved by the WHO International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision.

The outbreak began in Lusaka province in October 2023, and as of 18 January 2024, 10,887 cases and 432 deaths were reported across nine of the country’s 10 provinces. The outbreak is spreading quickly, with an average of 461 new cases reported every 24 hours in the last seven days.

Dr. Nathan Bakyaita, WHO Representative in Zambia, emphasized the need for collaborative efforts to address the outbreak and protect citizens’ health. WHO is deploying experts to support emergency coordination, case management, surveillance, and infection prevention and control. The organization has also provided cholera kits and medical supplies to the government, with additional supplies and equipment being procured.

The government has activated a high-level outbreak response coordinated by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, and other efforts to control the outbreak include providing clean drinking water, setting up oral rehydration points in strategic community places, and public health campaigns to promote hygiene practices.

Cholera is a highly contagious infection that can lead to dehydration and high morbidity and mortality. However, it is easily treatable, and effective control measures, including access to treatment, vaccines, safe water, and improved hygiene practices, are essential in addressing the outbreak.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Zambia.

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