THE Ministry of Health and Child Care will next month administer the second dose of the cholera vaccine amid reports that no new cases have been recorded since the beginning of 2019.

In a telephone interview yesterday, the Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira, said all was set for the Ministry to roll out the programme in cholera hot spot areas of Harare.

“Second dose (OCV2) phase is being planned for mid-March for Epworth and Chitungwiza while Harare will be vaccinated for Typhoid,” she said.

Dr Manangazira said the vaccination programme was important to prevent the epidemic spreading to other parts of the country and described the first phase of the programme as a success.

“Cholera vaccination is mostly for outbreak response and curbing spread to the rest of the country. We achieved high coverage in all suburbs and the communities were very co-operative during the first phase of the programme,” she said.

About 60 people died from cholera last year which prompted the Government to roll out a vaccination programme in hotspots like Harare and Chegutu to avert new cases.

Dr Manangazira said the Epidemiology and Disease Control Department in the Ministry of Health was working tirelessly to ensure that the epidemic was controlled.

She said there would be a third and final vaccine to be rolled out soon after completion of the second dose and urged the community to co-operate with health workers and teams carrying out the vaccination programme.

Dr Manangazira urged the public to continue practising high standards of hygiene and to drink water from safe sources.

“Vaccination will not mean that people can start being lax with hygiene and their health. The public is therefore advised to continue practising high standards of hygiene to prevent other water borne diseases,” she said.

In a statement, Unicef said the eradication of cholera could be attributed to rapid response teams which have been raising awareness in communities.

“No new cholera infections in Zimbabwe were recorded since December, 2018. This was achieved through the rapid response teams who ensure support for households with critical information on precautionary measures and how to handle people with suspected cholera symptoms,” said Unicef.

“The rapid response teams administered by the Ministry of Health and Child Care are also distributing non-food items like soaps, buckets and aquatablets.

“This was made possible through the support of the Embassy of Sweden. Environmental Health Response Teams are being dispatched into the community to provide Rapid Response to the hardest hit suburbs”.

Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi recently committed an additional US$60 million towards the cholera response in Zimbabwe.

The commitment comes on the back of an initial $10 million investment by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe at the onset of the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in September 2018.

Nearly half of the initial investment has been spent to date, and the Masiyiwas are now committing to expand the investment by $60 million of their own funds, to be spent over the next five years.

Since the 2018 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the Government has led a massive effort to contain the spread of cholera. The swift response and decisive leadership of the Health Ministry was a critical success factor.Herald