Zimbabwe procuring additional 6,3 million cholera vaccines Dr Jenfan Muswere

Wallace Ruzvidzo-Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE is procuring an additional 6,3 million cholera vaccines to consolidate the success of the initial 1,7 million doses which significantly slowed down and ameliorated the cholera outbreak.

The Government has also embarked on an extensive programme to improve hygiene, water provision and waste disposal to beat back the disease.

So far, 90 percent of those targeted to receive the first consignment of 1,7 million vaccines have been vaccinated with Harare having 73,4 percent of the targeted population vaccinated so far as the Ministry of Health and Child Care used that initial delivery in the hotspots.

The cholera outbreak has not been confined to Zimbabwe as 667 000 cases and 4 000 deaths were recorded between December 2022 and December last year across SADC. This wide swathe of infection means that vaccine demand has impacted production and so Zimbabwe’s extra doses can only be supplied from April.

Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting in Harare, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said Government would continue making stringent efforts to mitigate the spread of the disease through a range of successful measures.

Ongoing control measures include the distribution of water treatment chemicals at the point of use, training of water point committees, demonstrations on handwashing, setting up of oral rehydration points, engagement with the religious leadership and raising awareness and health education campaigns.

“The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, updated Cabinet on the cholera outbreak situation and the response. As at February 13, Zimbabwe’s cumulative suspected cholera cases were 24 332. 

“Also by February 13 the country had administered 1 585 327 doses of the 1 712 017 that the country has received so far. The targeted provinces have a coverage of more than 90 percent, while Harare has 73,4 percent. Vaccination is still continuing in Harare.

“Furthermore, efforts are already underway to procure an additional 6,3 million vaccines in order to cover additional hotspots,” said Dr Muswere.

He said the Second Republic continues to stress the need for Zimbabweans to stick to laid down prevention measures.

“In light of the foregoing, Cabinet reiterated the need to adhere to cholera preventive measures as follows: ensuring provision of safe, clean water to all communities; improving sanitation facilities in both urban and rural areas; regulating food vending in all urban areas; sustainable refuse removal and management system; and monitoring and supervising religious gatherings for religious and funeral purposes in known hotspots until the situation normalises,” said Dr Muswere.

Responding to a question from The Herald during the media briefing, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said Government had since initiated the process to procure additional vaccines. 

“We have initiated the processes and we are in communication with Treasury and they have said they are able to procure for us 2,3 million doses so that those who got the initial first dose get the second dose and they are adequately covered for at least three years.

“Our requirement is a further 6,6 million doses so that we have enough coverage for the whole country but I think we are going to be doing it in stages so the process is now ongoing.

“We have secured the 2 million doses so far with the distributors and we have also spoken with the manufacturers to say can they spare something for us,” he said.

Although Zimbabwe would have preferred to have the vaccines delivered now, Dr Mombeshora said because of the high demand wrought by increasing cases across SADC, that would not be possible. The new batches of vaccines would be delivered in April.

“They have said from now up to the end of March everything has been booked by the WHO but we are also talking to the WHO to see if they can give us some more doses. But for us as Zimbabwe they said we could actually get the next doses in April so the challenge is even if we would have loved to have them now but because of limited production we cannot have them now.

“I was presenting today that actually the cases have increased from December 2022 to December 2023. The cases in our region only were 667 000 with more than 4 000 deaths so it is not only Zimbabwe that is now competing for these vaccines, other countries surrounding us are also pressing to get the vaccines,” he said.

Dr Muswere said Cabinet was also apprised on President Mnangagwa’s recent visit to Botswana where he attended the 4th Session of the Bi-National Commission between Zimbabwe and Botswana earlier this month.

“His Excellency the President, Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa, led a delegation to Maun, Botswana from February 8-11, 2024 at the invitation of his counterpart from Botswana, President Mokgweetsi EK Masisi. The two principals co-chaired the 4th Session of the Bi-National Commission between Zimbabwe and Botswana on February 9, 2024. 

“Key highlights of the Bi-National Commission Meeting include the following: signing of the agreement on gainful employment of spouses and dependants of diplomatic and consular staff, aimed at removing labour market restrictions on the employment of spouses and dependants of accredited embassy and consular staff on a reciprocal basis; the Business Forum, which provided the captains of industry, micro, small and medium enterprises an opportunity to interact and explore business opportunities among each other; and adoption of new important areas of cooperation such as the domain of geo-spatial and space technology,” he said.

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