Inadequate cholera vaccine worrying: Minister

Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora

Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora has expressed concern over the inadequate cholera vaccine in Zimbabwe.

Mombeshora was responding to questions from legislators in Parliament who wanted to know what measures the government was taking to curb the spread of cholera.

A number of southern African countries, including Zimbabwe, are battling the worst cholera outbreak, with more than 200 000 cases and more than 3 000 deaths reported to date in the region.

Since the start of the outbreak in February last year, more than 20 000 cases have been reported across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces with 452 confirmed deaths and 300 suspected deaths.

“We have one problem, that there is a cholera outbreak in a lot of countries and the problem is that the vaccines are not adequate to give enough to each and every needy country,” Mombeshora said.

“The World Health Organisation is working on how to distribute these vaccines so that each country gets a fair share. We are now working together with them and Unicef on this issue.

“As Zimbabwe, we were given two million three hundred doses that we are supposed to get. As I speak, we have 892 000 doses that we have received in the country so far. Those vaccines are the ones that we are starting to distribute.”

He also said the government was expecting to receive more vaccines.

“We are expecting that on the 5th of February (yesterday). We will receive another batch of vaccines of more than five hundred thousand to add on to what we already have, we will be receiving these doses in batches until we get to three million doses,” the Health minister added.

“We are not ending there. We are expecting to receive more doses as they continue to be distributed.  We know that in Zambia, they are also experiencing this problem of cholera outbreaks and they are even worse off than us, they were also given three million doses.

“We were thinking that if we get seven and a half million doses, we will have reached the required target.  These vaccines are not adequate.”

Mombeshora, however, said the government had realised that some areas in Zimbabwe were not affected by cholera or the cases are fewer than others.

“So, we are doing what is called target approach or prioritisation. We are looking at the most affected areas at districts and not constituencies,” he said.

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