Mozambique has asked the World Health Organization to supply an additional 2 million doses of a cholera vaccine as the country struggles to control a spreading outbreak.
The head of the Department of National Health Surveillance at the Ministry of Health, Domingos Guihole, told VOA that the government awaits the WHO’s response to the cholera vaccine request, admitting difficulties due to the high global demand for vaccines.
“At this moment in Mozambique, the cholera situation is not good,” Guihole said. “It is not good because we have 10 provinces affected by cholera. We have 53 districts in the whole country, 45 of which have active cholera disease.”
The official said the intent is to vaccinate the population in high-risk areas, such as the northern province of Nampula and Zambezia in the central part of the country.
Both provinces were hit hard by Cyclone Freddy, which tore across Mozambique twice inside two weeks last month.
All five provinces impacted by Freddy on its first and second passes have witnessed cholera outbreaks.
In addition to the risk of cholera, the government is concerned about a potential increase in cases of other waterborne diseases such as dysentery. Malaria is a concern, too; both are among the leading causes of mortality in Mozambique.
“During almost seven months from October to April 16, we have notified 27,000 cases of cholera with 124 deaths, so the situation is not good,” said Guihole. “We have to say to all Mozambicans that we must follow the recommendations from the Ministry of Health related to the hygiene of water, hygiene of food, and even the collective hygiene as well.”
In many parts of Mozambique, health workers are struggling to treat infected citizens at clinics and hospitals that were badly damaged by Cyclone Freddy.
The record-breaking storm, which lasted for several weeks, killed dozens of people in Mozambique and Malawi and destroyed many roads and bridges in addition to hospitals.