News / Health

Doctors Without Borders Vaccinates Guineans Against Cholera

Internally displaced children suffering from cholera sleep inside a ward at Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 2011. (file photo)Internally displaced children suffering from cholera sleep inside a ward at Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 2011. (file photo)
x
Internally displaced children suffering from cholera sleep inside a ward at Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 2011. (file photo)
Internally displaced children suffering from cholera sleep inside a ward at Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 2011. (file photo)
Nancy Palus
DAKAR, Senegal - The medical aid group, Doctors Without Borders, has vaccinated more than 100,000 people against cholera in Guinea. The group says this is the first intervention of its kind in Africa, where people were vaccinated during a major cholera outbreak. Experts say that while the vaccine is a vital tool, it cannot be seen as a solution in itself.

Along with local health workers, Doctors Without Borders - known by its French acronym MSF - just wrapped up a campaign providing the two-dose oral vaccine to 117,000 people in Guinea’s Boffa region, about 150 kilometers north of the capital, Conakry.

MSF intervened with the vaccine following an outbreak in the region - the first time people in Africa are receiving protection during a cholera epidemic. MSF says the campaign could lead to a more effective response to outbreaks worldwide.

François Verhoustraeten, who is program director with MSF in Geneva and oversees the agency’s work in Guinea, said what’s particular about the Guinea intervention is that MSF introduced the vaccine once cases were already reported. So not only is the group protecting people from the disease, he said, it is also able to see the impact of vaccination on an ongoing epidemic.

Guinea and other West African countries regularly face outbreaks of cholera, a deadly illness caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria. Once someone is infected, the bacteria are present in feces for one to two weeks, so proper sanitation and access to clean drinking water are indispensable for prevention.

MSF points out that the cholera vaccine cannot be used alone, but rather is just one tool against this highly contagious yet preventable disease.

Verhoustraeten said the agency will not base future cholera prevention efforts on the vaccine. He said proper hygiene and access to clean water remain fundamental measures and that the vaccine can be a significant addition.

MSF and local health workers carried out the campaign in Guinea's Boffa region between late April and mid-May. The agency says the vaccine is relatively easy to administer, training for local health workers is basic, and the vaccine has been well accepted by the people.

Claire-Lise Chaignat is a cholera expert at the World Health Organization in Geneva. She said WHO is closely watching the campaign in Guinea.

“Vaccines have certainly a role to play in cholera control, but it’s not a panacea. We’re very keen on seeing how this intervention of MSF in West Africa is going to be effective,” said Chaignat.

She said vaccination is becoming increasingly prominent in cholera prevention, pointing to a project in Zanzibar, in eastern Africa, where broad vaccination campaigns are planned.  

“Now the recommendation is to use cholera vaccines to eliminate cholera in Zanzibar by having three vaccination rounds over a period of 10 years, along with improved water and sanitation. So you see the vaccine is really coming to the forefront, but again not as a sole measure; it has to be part of an intervention package,” said Chaignat.

MSF points out that a number of other diarrheal diseases affect people in Africa - all the more reason proper sanitation and clean water are paramount.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs