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Cholera vaccination campaign starts for Rohingyas in Bhasan Char

Under the leadership of the Communicable Disease Control (CDC) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), icddr,b, and the Civil Surgeon Office of Noakhali, launched a cholera vaccination campaign in Noakhali’s Bhasan Char Monday.

About 30,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals (FDMNs), commonly referred to as Rohingyas, will be vaccinated using an orally-administered vaccine through this campaign, UNB reports.

Dr Mohammad Nazmul Islam, director of Disease Control and Line Director Disease Control Program at the DGHS, and Dr Firdausi Qadri, acting senior director of the Infectious Diseases Division of the icddr,b, were present at the inauguration of the vaccination campaign.

Dr Masum Iftekhar, district civil surgeon of Noakhali, was also present.

Since December 2020, almost 32,000 Rohingya people have been relocated to Bhasan Char. Unfortunately, a diarrhoeal disease outbreak took place in Bhasan Char in 2021 that affected 1,500 people and killed four.

To prevent a similar outbreak from happening, the CDC, DGHS, icddr,b, the WHO, and other development partners have taken the initiative to carry out an oral cholera vaccination (OCV) program in Bhasan Char.

At the inauguration, Nazmul said: “The government has been undertaking various initiatives to protect the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals from infectious diseases. In line with that, we are undertaking an oral cholera vaccination campaign to keep them safe.”

Firdausi appreciated the collaborative vaccination effort and said, “icddr,b along with the Communicable Disease Control of the DGHS, other government agencies and development partners have successfully administered around five million doses of oral cholera vaccine to the Rohingya population since they fled persecution in Myanmar and arrived in Cox’s Bazar in 2017.

The effort possibly prevented large epidemics and saved many lives. Encouraged by the success, we extended our efforts to Bhasan Char, which is susceptible to infectious diseases like cholera. Bangladesh’s exemplary efforts in humanitarian settings should serve as a model for other parts of the world.”

Starting on Monday, February 27, the first dose of the OCV campaign will continue until Wednesday, March 1, from 8 am to 5 pm through 25 centres in Bhasan Char. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered, possibly on March 19.

The two-dose Euvichol-Plus Cholera vaccine produced by EuBiologics of South Korea, which is given at least 14 days apart, will be administered to those who are above one year of age.

This vaccine is prequalified by the WHO and can be given to all except pregnant women and those who have received other vaccines within the last 14 days.