DOCTORS Without Borders (DWB) has announced that they are almost halfway to their goal of vaccinating more than 500,000 Zambians against cholera – but men are not showing up as much as women and children.
The humanitarian organisation – also known as MSF – has so far vaccinated 229,650 people in Bauleni, Kanyama and Matero townships.
MSF communication officer Borrie LaGrange said that the organisation and the Ministry of Health teams have noticed low numbers of male adults coming to receive the oral vaccine.
He said that they suspected this might be because vaccination campaigns usually targeted children. Mr LaGrange added that because the current cholera outbreak was not as severe as previous epidemics, people were not aware of the risks they faced.
The record-breaking vaccination campaign targets the general population in order to ensure maximum coverage and protection.
“During the last eight days our teams have received positive feedback from people living in Bauleni, Kanyama and Matero,” said Mr LaGrange. Many recall the intense impact of previous cholera outbreaks. The most recent being in 2011 and expressed thanks to MSF and the Ministry of Health’s support to the community,” he said. MSF has achieved coverage rates ranging from 65 to 82 per cent of the population in the three compounds. He stressed that a catch-up campaign will be organized in areas where numbers were too low.
Vaccination teams would also be active in George and Chawama over the next few days.
The organization hopes that ‘‘herd immunity’’ – in which enough people have been immunized to reduce the risk of infection for those who have not – might occur in some of these areas.
However, because MSF was only administering one dose of the vaccine to individuals, it was possible herd immunity would not take effect.
MSF and the Ministry of Health have emphasized that although the oral cholera vaccine has proven to be effective for the most part, other measures must also be taken to protect against the spread of cholera.
These include treating water with chlorine, washing hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and avoiding eating street foods or food prepared in unhygienic conditions.