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Zambia Receives Oral Cholera Vaccines to Combat Ongoing Outbreak

In response to the escalating cholera outbreak that has affected over 45 districts in Zambia since October 2023, the Minister of Health, Hon. Sylvia T. Masebo, announced the successful reception of Oral Cholera Vaccines from Gavi via the UN system. 

The handover ceremony, held on January 15th, 2024, marked a crucial step in the country’s intensified multisectoral response to combat the life-threatening disease.

At the event, attended by key figures including the Acting UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Cissy Byenkya, and the Acting WHO Country Representative, Dr Fred Masaninga, Minister Masebo provided an update on the current situation. The outbreak has resulted in 418 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours across eight provinces. 

Lusaka Province remains the most affected, with 381 new cases reported. The Minister emphasized the socio-economic impact of the outbreak, affecting the education calendar and operations of various businesses.

Minister Masebo highlighted the government’s commitment to a multi-sectoral, whole-government, and whole-society coordination response, echoing President Hakainde Hichilema’s call for engagement of the general public as key players in creating cholera-free communities. 

The government has invoked STATUTORY INSTRUMENT No. 5 of 2024, introducing provisions under the Public Health Act to enhance cholera prevention and control measures.

In collaboration with the WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance, Zambia received over 1.7 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccines, with 1.4 million doses already delivered between January 1th  and 14th, 2024. 

The remaining balance is expected soon. The Minister assured the public of the safety of the vaccines, highlighting their successful use in previous outbreaks in different parts of the country.

The deployment of vaccines will be phased, targeting high-risk areas, particularly in Lusaka. Eligible individuals aged one year and above will be vaccinated in selected high-risk zones. 

Minister Masebo called for unity among Zambians to combat cholera, urging citizens to work together to protect lives and eliminate the threat posed by the disease.

She further emphasized the government committiment to swiftly controlling the outbreak and appreciates the continued support from local and international partners in this endeavor.

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