World Health Organization (WHO) has supported the Minister of Public Health of Lebanon to secure a critical shipment of 600 000 doses of cholera vaccine from the International Coordination Group (ICG) managing the global supply of cholera vaccines.
The vaccines were delivered to the Ministry of Public Health’s Central Drug Warehouse for use during a vaccination campaign to be launched on Saturday, 12 November 2022. The campaign will target all refugees and host communities aged 1 year and above, aiming to reach 70% of the target population with a weekly target of administering 200 000 doses over the coming three weeks.
“These vaccines will be a key tool to boost our response as the cholera outbreak is fast spreading in the country. The arrival of these vaccines in the country is timely and thanks to our collective efforts with the Ministry of Public Health of Lebanon, UN agencies and our partners on the ground,” says Dr Abdinasir Abubakar, WHO Representative in Lebanon.
WHO is covering the full cost of the 600 000 doses from the ICG, which manages the global oral cholera vaccine stockpile, and is providing technical guidance on the selection of target areas, development of micro plans and training of the implementing partners responsible for the vaccine deployment.
WHO and its partners also continue to support vaccination against cholera using the Shanchol vaccine donated by Sanofi for use with prisoners and health care workers.
“Cholera vaccines are a critical tool to protect people and limit the spread of the outbreak, but they are not the only tool we have to combat cholera. We can prevent cholera effectively by improving access to safe water, proper sanitation and hygiene practices. Let’s also ensure people have access to these interventions,” adds Dr Abubakar.
As the national plan for oral cholera vaccine is being implemented in phases, starting with this batch, WHO will also be supporting the Ministry of Public Health to complete a second ICG application for the additional two million doses of oral cholera vaccine needed for phase 2 of the campaign.
The current cholera outbreak in Lebanon is the first in over 30 years, reflecting the ongoing deterioration in the economic situation and poor access to clean water and proper sanitation services across the country.
As of 7 November 2022, 2722 suspected cholera cases (out of which 448 are laboratory-confirmed) and 18 associated deaths (CFR 1%) were reported across the country. Of these cases, 25% are under five years of age.