Somalia receives 1.4 million vials of oral cholera vaccine

The delivery comes amid alarm at the increasing number of reported cases

31 March 2024
Cholera vaccine arrival in Mogadishu.
UNICEF Somalia/Hill
Cholera vaccine arrival in Mogadishu.

Somalia has today received 1.4 million vials of the oral cholera vaccine worth US$ 2.5 million in a stepped-up effort to stem an outbreak of the disease that has since January infected 4,388 people and claimed 54 lives, two-thirds of them children. The number of reported cases this year, according to WHO, is three times higher than the average reported in the same period during the last three years.

Procured through the UN children’s agency UNICEF, the vaccines will be distributed to five hotspot districts across the country, with 700,000 vials earmarked for Bossaso in Puntland state which has experienced the highest case fatality rate. The other districts are Daynile, Mahady, Buurhakaba, and Balcad.

In addition to the vaccines, UNICEF is delivering 40 cholera kits for the treatment of about 4,000 people. Each kit comprises cholera treatment drugs and equipment. In conjunction with the vaccines and supplies, UNICEF and partners are stepping up improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene services in affected areas and sensitizing communities on prevention.

The upsurge in cholera is attributed largely to El Nino-induced floods towards the end of last year which displaced 1.2 million people. Somalia, however, has had uninterrupted transmission of cholera since 2016 driven by high population concentrations lacking access to safe water and adequate sanitation, population movements within Somalia and across its borders, and persistently high levels of malnutrition.  With the April-June Gu rainy season set to start soon, there are fears that Somalia might yet see an increase in cases.

Ahead of the rains, health authorities and partners have stepped up their preparedness and response, guided by a six-month action plan costed at US$ 5.9 million.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through food and water contaminated with bacteria, often from faeces. Cholera vaccines are free and easy to administer orally, including to children.

In 2023, more than 18,300 cumulative cases and 46 deaths were reported, over half being children aged below 5 years.

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Note to editors.

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Media contacts

Victor Chinyama
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Somalia
Tel: +252613375885

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has over 300 staff working in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Dollow, Garowe, Hargeisa and also Nairobi, Kenya. Together with 200 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, and responds to emergencies and supports peace-building and development.

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