MSF Lebanon starts cholera vaccination amid threat of full-blown spread
Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is contributing to the national vaccination campaign against cholera launched by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health’s by vaccinating people in Arsal, Akkar, Tripoli and Baalbek-Hermel in the north and northeast of Lebanon where most cholera cases are registered in the country, a statement said.
“600,000 cholera vaccines received by Lebanon, as first phase procurement, are to be administered in coordination with various international and local actors,” MSF said in a statement.
“MSF has started vaccinating since five days and, so far, we have managed to vaccinate 6,677 people,” says Marcelo Fernandez, MSF Head of Mission in Lebanon. “Our teams are going from door to door in all neighborhoods, visiting homes, shops, and camps actively seeking out people to get vaccinated and to raise awareness on the importance of vaccination of a rapidly spread disease,” he added.
Since Lebanon recorded its first cholera case in almost three decades on October 6, 18 people have died as a result of the disease, with the number of confirmed and suspected cases rising to 3,395 as of 14 November 2022.
MSF’s vaccination efforts are targeting Lebanese and refugees living in poor and/or overcrowded areas in the country, conditions that put people at heightened risk of contracting infectious diseases.
“To be able to effectively curb the outbreak, it is crucial to enhance cholera prevention measures, of which vaccination is one of the critical elements,” explains Marcelo Fernandez. “However, if no meaningful actions are taken to ensure people have proper access to safe drinking water and sanitation services in the country, we can expect cholera and/or other waterborne infectious diseases to resurface regularly in Lebanon,” adds Fernandez.
In addition to administering cholera vaccines, MSF is also providing patient care. In the Bekaa’s Bar Elias and Arsal MSF is running two cholera treatment centers with a total capacity of seventy beds. In Tripoli, north of Lebanon, and Arsal, oral rehydration points are being set up for people who do not require hospitalization. Five medical kits were procured by MSF to treat up to 3,125 cholera patients.
MSF is also providing technical training to Lebanese health workers on the treatment of cholera patients, mobilized teams to raise awareness about the disease and distributed hygiene kits to help people maintain essential household and personal hygiene in the Bekaa Valley, north, and northeast of Lebanon (Bar Elias, Akkar, Baalbek-Hermel, and Arsal).