Syria Launches 1.7 Million Oral Cholera Vaccinations

Cholera outbreak in Syria detected in September 2022
Syria cholera vaccinations
U.S. CDC map Feb. 2023
Damascus (Vax Before Travel)

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced a ten-day Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) vaccination campaign was launched in northwest Syria.

The WHO confirmed on March 8, 2023, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in coordination with health authorities, the Syria Immunization Group (SIG), and the Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI), kicked off this campaign with 1.7 million doses of cholera vaccine that will be used to protect Syrians above one year of age.

The vaccinations focus on Sarmada, Maaret Tamsrin, Dana, and Atmeh districts in Idleb and the A'zaz district in northern Aleppo.

Since the cholera outbreak was first declared in Syria on September 10, 2022, over 50 thousand suspected cases have been reported in both Idlib and Aleppo governorates.

"WHO warns against the increase of water-borne diseases for over 2.1 million Syrians living in the northwest of the country, with the risk increasing significantly in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, especially in overcrowded camps and collective centers," says Dr. Richard Brennan, Regional Emergency Director for WHO's Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, in a media release.

"WHO and partners have to act now to avoid further illness and death. As the cholera vaccines are orally administered (Valneva SE's DUKORAL®), it is crucial to ensure that targeted populations are reached before the beginning of the Holy month of Ramadan, as most adults will be fasting during this period".

Additionally, the WHO recently reported cholera outbreaks in 29 countries, such as Haiti.

UNICEF Deputy Regional Director programs for the Middle East and North Africa, Maddalena Bertolotti, commented, "This vaccination campaign is vital as it will provide much-needed protection for children and their families and help curb the spread of the disease, which can put millions of people at risk."

UNICEF continues to lead OCV procurement, cold chain, and vaccine management for safety.

And UNICEF co-leads in the planning and implementation of the social mobilization activities for the OCV campaign to create awareness of the importance of taking the vaccine to keep families safe and healthy from cholera disease

The devastating earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and northern Syria have disrupted access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, exposing the population to an increased risk of water-borne diseases, including cholera.

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