DR Congo launches mass vaccination against cholera

BUKAVU, DR CONGO (AFP) – Health workers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have launched a bid to vaccinate more than a million people against cholera in five days after their region was hit by heavy floods.

Immunisation teams have started fanning out in the territories of Fizi, Idjwi, Minova, Nundu and Uvira, near Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika, where cholera is endemic, Eugene Kabambi of the DRC branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), said yesterday.

“We are using a door-to-door strategy to prevent potential clustering of people at fixed (vaccination) sites,” he said, referring to the risk of coronavirus infection. The five territories were badly hit by floods in April that left dozens of dead and destroyed thousands of homes.

Eastern DRC is a vast, remote region that last month declared an end to a prolonged outbreak of Ebola, but has ongoing epidemics of cholera and measles that are far less recognised internationally.

Nationwide, the country has so far recorded 9,010 cases of coronavirus, of which 215 have been fatal.

By comparison, 12,271 cases of cholera have been documented since the start of the year, leading to 177 deaths.