Around 2.2 million doses of oral cholera vaccine was administered to Rohingyas and the host community during four rounds of vaccination campaign from October 2017 to December 2018, said International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).
The information was revealed at a dissemination seminar organised by icddr,b to share its emergency healthcare response and pre-emptive oral cholera vaccination measures for the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals (FDMNs) at a hotel in Cox’s Bazar or Thursday, said a press release.Led by Dr Firdausi Qadri, a senior scientist at icddr,b, and coordinated by Dr Ashraful Islam Khan, a scientist at icddr,b, 150 staff members were involved in the vaccination campaign.
Addressing the seminar, Dr Ashraful Islam Khan said that the pre-emptive vaccination campaign has prevented an epidemic of cholera in Cox’s Bazar, which was highly anticipated by the global public health community.
Historically, cholera outbreaks are common phenomena in humanitarian crisis and have caused thousands of deaths.
The icddr,b was very quick to respond immediately during the Rohingya exodus that began late in August of 2017. The icddr,b and UNICEF jointly conducted a field assessment in Cox’s Bazar in September 2017, and identified the potential risks of a diarrhoeal disease outbreak.
Accordingly, icddr,b partnered with UNICEF to strengthen healthcare services for diarrhoeal disease and malnutrition in the Rohingya community.
As described in the seminar, ‘they came with nothing, they had nothing and needed infrastructure, sanitation, shelter, food, non-food items and health care’. UNICEF supported the study to evaluate the effectiveness of oral cholera vaccine administered to FDMNs. The resulting work, which prevented a cholera outbreak, has been described as ‘the most successful pre-emptive campaign.’Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Senior Director, Nutrition and Clinical Services (NCSD) at icddr,b, briefed about the icddr,b-UNICEF partnership to strengthen acute watery diarrhoea treatment and preparedness initiatives, which include training of doctors, nurses, paramedics and community health workers of the government and NGOs working in the area, management of diarrhoeal disease and associated malnutrition through five diarrhoeal treatment centres (DTC) in Leda, Shyamlapur, Balukhali, Teknaf, and Ukhia of Cox’s Bazar, and DTC based diarrheal diseases surveillance.
In the seminar, Dr Azharul Islam Khan, Head of Hospitals at icddr,b, highlighted the implementation process and experiences in community engagement.
He also explained the importance of oral rehydration solution (ORS) in treatment of diarrhoeal disease and warned about the misuse of unnecessary antibiotics.
Dr Azhar said that he will continue to criticise the unnecessary use of antibiotics in the treatment of diarrhoea which leads to anti-biotic resistance.
Dr ASG Faruque, Senior Scientist, NCSD at icddr,b, presented on the DTC based diarrhoeal disease surveillance activities, which included the recognition that Cox Bazar was a cholera hotspot and sanitation facilities in the camp created an environment ripe for cholera outbreaks.
He reported that a total of 820 health care professionals have been trained by icddr,b on management of diarrhoeal disease, and the diarrhoeal treatment centres have provided care to 6,156 patients.
Dr Mohammed Abdul Matin, Civil Surgeon of Cox’s Bazar, Brig Gen (Retd) Dr Balwinder Sing, Health Sector Coordinator, Prof. Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, National Consultant at UNICEF also spoke on the occasion. Representatives from the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other stakeholders also attended the programme.