Bangladesh has begun its first nationwide vaccination drive against cholera as the country joined the global effort to eliminate the endemic disease that infects thousands of people each year.
As part of the national vaccination programme, the health department chose six high cholera-prone areas of capital Dhaka to administer the first doses of the oral vaccine to 1.2 million people starting from Wednesday to February 25, reports Efe news.
The second dose will be administered to the recipients of the vaccine a month later.
"This is the first time we have taken such a vaccination program. We will administer oral cholera vaccine to all people of the country in phases," said Shahnila Ferdous, the health services director for communicable disease.
Shahnila said it was the first World Health Organization's (WHO) pre-qualified cholera vaccine that was not available from any private sources.
Bangladesh formulated a National Cholera Control Plan in 2019 as per the WHO's Global Task Force on Cholera Control target of eliminating the disease by 2030.
Shahnila said Bangladesh was one of the eight countries that face a high risk of the cholera endemic. The other countries are India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Haiti, Congo, Tanzania, and Kenya.
"There are at least 100,000 cases of cholera in each of these countries," she said.
Bangladesh Health Department said they do not have any official data of cholera patients in the country.
But a surveillance report in 2014 by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, which is based in Bangladesh, said a total of 66 million population of the country were at the risk of cholera.
The report estimated 109,052 cases and 3,272 deaths annually by cholera.
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