Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe became the first country in Africa to vaccinate against typhoid yesterday when it rolled out a campaign in nine typhoid hotspots in Harare.
The programme targets 325 000 residents between the ages of six months and 45 years.
This follows the successful Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) campaign last year, where 1,3 million people received the first dose of the vaccine (OCV1) in response to the massive outbreak that affected Harare and other parts of the country.
The nine typhoid hotspots that are being targeted are Mufakose, Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah, Kuwadzana, Mbare, Hatcliffe, Hopley and Dzivaresekwa
The nine selected high-density and typhoid-burdened suburbs in Harare started receiving vaccinations against typhoid yesterday, with the operation expected to end on March 4.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo last week said the mass vaccinations followed evidence that typhoid was becoming endemic in some parts of Harare, with seasonal peaks between October and March of each year since 2010.
He said in Mbare, the vaccination will cover residents between the ages of six months and 45 years, while the rest of the vaccination in other suburbs will cover children between six months and 15 years.
“We have hit a first once again as Zimbabwe by launching this mass typhoid vaccination campaign that will be conducted in nine high density suburbs from next week until the 4th of March 2019,” said Dr Moyo.
Dr Moyo said the typhoid conjugate vaccine is expected to reduce the endemic cases of typhoid in the affected areas.
The total number of cholera cases currently stand at 10 719, and 69 deaths, 46 of which were in Harare.
Other areas that reported cholera cases were Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Epworth, Shamva, Mazowe, Rushinga, Mt Darwin, Seke, Marondera, Murewa, Mutoko, Wedza, Chikomba, Kadoma, Buhera, Makoni, Gokwe North, Mberengwa, Mutare City, Masvingo, Chiredzi, Beitbridge.
All cases were linked to the Harare outbreak. The second dose of the cholera vaccine (OCV2) will be given mid-March. Following the declaration of a cholera outbreak last year, City of Harare and its partners have increased existing efforts in the promotion of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities to combat the spread of faecal-oral diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics at health facilities.
It was noted that a significant number of typhoid patients had developed resistance to currently recommended antimicrobial treatments.
Acting Health services director Dr Clemence Duri said the introduction of the typhoid vaccine will help reduce the number of cases in the city and reduce the spread of resistant typhoid strains.