According to Africa’s public health organistion, countries dealing with fatal cholera epidemics on the continent do not have “rapid access” to vaccines due to a global supply deficit.
Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told journalists on Thursday that the organization is collaborating with the World Health Organization and the vaccine alliance GAVI to find new ways to secure more doses.
According to Ogwell, the Africa CDC is also working with two local manufacturers to see if their facilities can be repurposed to make cholera vaccines. He did not specify which ones.
In October, WHO and its partners suggested that countries utilize a single dosage of the cholera vaccine instead of two due to a supply constraint as outbreaks of the water-borne disease spread globally.
They stated that one dosage of vaccination has been shown to be beneficial in halting outbreaks “despite evidence on the exact length of protection being limited” and appearing to be lower in children.
WHO noted that Haiti and Syria also are trying to contain large outbreaks.
WHO and partner agencies manage a stockpile of cholera vaccines that are dispensed free to countries that need them.
Malawi in southern Africa especially is struggling with a cholera outbreak.
The country has recorded 3,577 new cases including 111 deaths in the past week, Ogwell said.
They make up the bulk of the new cholera cases on the continent.
In five African countries since the start of 2023, there have been 27,300 new cases of cholera, including 687 fatalities, according to Ogwell.
Given that the cholera-causing bacteria may multiply more quickly in warmer water, the WHO has warned that climate change may increase the frequency of cholera epidemics.
74 761 cholera cases, including 745 fatalities, have been reported worldwide.
Countries and territories reporting new cases since the previous update are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, and Tanzania.