United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian A Nichol has said that his government is working with the government of Zimbabwe to supply a cholera vaccine for up to 300 000 people. In an interview on Friday at the Voice of America’s Washington headquarters with Marvelous Mhlanga-Nyahuye, Nichols said the vaccine was not 100 per cent effective but would help to prevent infection and increased recovery rates if people got infected. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
MNyahuye: And, on the health side, we know that the U.S. is really involved in PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), but we have a cholera epidemic currently underway in Harare, and Zimbabwe. Is the U.S. going to step in and help?
Amb. Nichols: Well, actually yes, I was just visiting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and had the opportunity to discuss this issue with them. We have an excellent relationship with Zimbabwe on issues of health, and I was very impressed to hear the close coordination and work that’s being done.
Cholera is a preventable disease, and one of the most important interventions is dealing with water and access to clean water. So we definitely want to work with the people of Zimbabwe on promoting access to clean, portable water.
There is also a vaccine, an oral vaccine that can help prevent cholera. Now, it’s not 100% effective but it does help people either prevent infection or recover more quickly, if they are infected, and we are working with the government of Zimbabwe on a vaccination program, that hopefully will cover 300,000 people.
The current cholera outbreak has affected more than 5000 people and killed at least 28 people, and has been declared a state of emergency by the government.
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