FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

MSF reports successful oral cholera immunization campaign in Guinea

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières's and its research center Epicentre announced on Thursday that a large-scale cholera vaccine campaign showed potential sustainability for the oral cholera vaccine to control potential epidemics.

The campaign took place in Guinea in 2012 and sought to observe the ability of the oral cholera vaccine to offset a potential outbreak. Cholera is a common epidemic in Guinea during the wet season and risk of a major cholera outbreak was high last year due to a large epidemic in neighboring Sierra Leone.

The Ministry of Health and the MSF decided to launch the campaign last April in an attempt to vaccinate the highest at-risk populations against cholera before the disease became widespread. MSF medical teams administered more than 316,000 doses of vaccines during two vaccination rounds, which took place in the Guinea coastal regions of Boffa and Forecariah.

The immunization campaign was widely accepted throughout the community; double-dose vaccination coverage was 75.8 percent in Boffa and 75.9 percent in Forecariah. With this, 98.9 percent of participants said they would volunteer for vaccination again in the near future.

The World Health Organization was concerned the oral cholera vaccine would not be widely accepted or accessible to at-risk populations. The MSF study is a milestone towards increasing the popularity and feasibility of the oral cholera vaccine.

"With this study, we show that with proper planning and outreach in the communities, it is indeed possible to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people in a remote area, with a highly mobile population, in a relatively short period of time, against cholera," Dr. Francisco Luquero, lead author of the study, said. "However, more evidence is still needed about the feasibility of reactive campaigns in densely populated urban areas. Oral cholera vaccines should not be viewed as a long-term solution for global cholera control. They should be integrated as an additional tool in the global response to cholera outbreaks."

The report was published in the Journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.