Southern Africa is again weathering a season of cholera, with six countries in the region recording outbreaks in 2023, reported Derick Matsengarwodzi with GAVI.
As of May 25, 2023, Malawi is the worst affected, recording 36,943 cases and 1,210 associated deaths between March 2022 and February 2023, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
So far this year, Malawi has received three shipments of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) in response to applications to the Gavi-supported stockpile established in 2013.
The latest 1.4 million OCV dose shipment arrived in Lilongwe in April 2023.
On May 22, 2023, Gavi published a roadmap outlining critical actions needed to ensure the supply of OCV can meet growing demand from countries.
The roadmap describes how these organizations, manufacturers, and countries can work together towards ensuring global OCV supply can support large-scale preventive vaccination by 2026.
"Cholera vaccines have steadily become more available over the past decade, meeting rising country demand," said Dr. Derrick Sim, Managing Director for Vaccine Markets and Health Security at Gavi, in a media release.
"As a result, the good news is we have doses to meet all emergency demand despite the rise in outbreaks, which is expected to continue. But this trend underscores the increasing importance of preventing outbreaks before they occur."
"The ultimate solution to both sustainable OCV supply and cholera control lies in our collective ability to step up our efforts on prevention programs."
As of May 31, 2023, various cholera vaccines have been approved but remain in limited supply.
Note: The U.S. CDC recently issued an Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions, regarding polio outbreaks, which includes Malawi.