Inauguration of the oral cholera vaccination campaign in five areas of Dhaka city

Dhaka, Bangladesh, 26 June 2022: Today, the Honourable Minister for Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of Bangladesh Mr. Zahid Maleque, MP inaugurated the country’s largest-ever oral cholera vaccination campaign at icddr,b’s Sasakawa Auditorium in Mohakhali. Dr Md. Anwar Hossain Howlader, Secretary, Health Services Division, MoHFW; Professor Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, Director General, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS); Dr Md. Shafiqul Islam, Deputy Director (Diseases Control), DGHS; Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Executive Director at icddr,b, Dr Firdausi Qadri, Senior Scientist and Acting Senior Director, Infectious Diseases Division at icddr,b, representatives from the DGHS, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, icddr,b, Dhaka North and South City Corporation and other local and international development partners were also present at the inauguration event.

In Bangladesh, generally there are two outbreaks of diarrhoea that takes place during the months of April to May and August to September. The number of diarrhoeal patients in Dhaka from March to May this year was many times higher than the past. More than half of these patients live in five areas of Dhaka city such as Jatrabari, Dakshin Khan, Sabujbagh, Mohammadpur and Mirpur. During this time, the number of cholera patients rose to about 34 percent among all patients. In light of this situation, the DGHS urgently called upon the Intersectoral Coordination Group (ICG) to provide vaccines for the `reactive cholera vaccination programme’, and in response the ICG provided about 4.5 million doses of oral cholera vaccines. Subsequently, icddr,b is undertaking the largest cholera vaccination campaign from 26 June to 2 July, 2022 with support from the Dhaka North and South City Corporation and under the supervision of the DGHS. The campaign is also supported by the National Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), World Health Organization, UNICEF, International Red Cross and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, and MSF. It is being funded by The Vaccine Alliance, GAVI.

The two-dose Euvichol-Plus Cholera vaccine produced by EuBiologics Co. Ltd., South Korea, which is given at least 14 days apart, will be administrated to those who are above one year of age. This vaccine is prequalified by the World Health Organization, and can be given to all except pregnant women and those who have received other vaccine within the last 14 days.

On behalf of the Director (Diseases Control) of the DGHS, Dr Md. Shafiqul Islam delivered the welcome speech at the inaugural session. The Honourable Health Minister Mr. Zahid Maleque wished success to the cholera vaccination drive. He lauded the efforts of the Directorate General of Health Services, icddr,b and all concerned for taking up the vaccination programme expeditiously. He said, “We have had fantastic results in areas where cholera vaccine trials took place in the past. We are very happy to be able to start this life-saving work. I would urge the residents of these area to participate in the campaign to keep themselves safe from cholera.”

Dr Md. Anwar Hossain Howlader (joined online), Prof. Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, and Dr Tahmeed Ahmed also spoke on the occasion. Dr Firdausi Qadri presented a brief about the vaccination campaign and emphasised on other preventive approaches, such as the use of safe water, safe sanitation and personal hygiene.

The first dose of the cholera vaccine has been scheduled to be given from Sunday, 26 June to Saturday, 2 July, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The target has been set to vaccinate about 5 lakh residents of Jatrabari, about 4 lakh 20 thousand in Sabujbagh, about 2 lakh 80 thousand in Dakshin Khan, about 7 lakh 80 thousand in Mirpur and about 4 lakh in Mohammadpur. Miking is already ongoing in these areas, the vaccination drive is being implemented through 700 vaccination centres. Residents of these areas are being urged to take precautionary measures against COVID-19 while taking the cholera vaccine to prevent the disease and to assist in the vaccination campaign.