BEIRUT: The Ministry of Public Health of Lebanon launched a cholera vaccination campaign on Saturday aimed at reaching 70 percent of the target population over the next three weeks.
The World Health Organization assisted the ministry in obtaining a critical shipment of 600,000 doses of cholera vaccine.
The campaign will target all refugees and host communities over the age of one with a weekly target of administering 200,000 doses.
“These vaccines will be a key tool to boost our response as the cholera outbreak is fast spreading in the country. The arrival of these vaccines in the country is timely and thanks to our collective efforts with the Ministry of Public Health of Lebanon, UN agencies and our partners on the ground,” WHO Representative in Lebanon Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar said.
WHO is covering the full cost of doses from the International Coordination Group, which manages the global supply of cholera vaccines. In addition, WHO is providing technical guidance on target area selection, micro plan development and training of the implementing partners in charge of vaccine deployment.
It will also assist the Ministry of Public Health in completing a second ICG application for the additional two million doses of oral cholera vaccine required for the campaign’s phase two.
“Cholera vaccines are a critical tool to protect people and limit the spread of the outbreak, but they are not the only tool we have to combat cholera. We can prevent cholera effectively by improving access to safe water, proper sanitation and hygiene practices. Let’s also ensure people have access to these interventions,” Dr. Abubakar said.
The cholera outbreak in Lebanon is the first in more than 30 years, a result of the country’s economic deterioration as well as its lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation services.
As of Monday, 2,722 suspected cholera cases and 18 associated deaths were reported across the country, with 25 percent of cases being children under the age of five.