Iraq combats cholera with massive vaccination campaign

AFP , Sunday 1 Nov 2015

Iraq is carrying out a major vaccination campaign to combat a cholera outbreak that has infected more than 2,200 people, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The campaign, focused on vaccinating people displaced by conflict including the war with the Islamic State group, began Saturday, health minister Adeela Hammoud Hussein said in a statement.

The World Health Organisation shipped more than 500,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine to Iraq, enough to treat some 250,000 people.

According to the WHO, there have been more than 2,200 cases of cholera in the current outbreak.

In the Jamiyah area of western Baghdad at a camp made up of rows of white tents, a medical team in a small room administered doses of the vaccine to both adults and children.

They were then given cards with their names and the date of their vaccination, and told to return after two weeks.

Akram Meshal, a 25-year-old from the city of Ramadi, which was seized by the jihadist IS in May, came with his wife and two children to be vaccinated.

"I really wanted to be one of the first families to receive the vaccine, because I am afraid," Meshal said.

"I tremble when I hear of cholera, especially among the displaced," he said.

Iraqi authorities have blamed the cholera outbreak mostly on the poor quality of water caused by the low level of the Euphrates.

And the WHO has said that: "The provision of safe water, sanitation and personal hygiene will continue to be the critical cholera prevention and control measures."

After a short incubation period of two to five days, cholera causes severe diarrhoea, draining the body of its water.

The United Nations says the number of people displaced by conflict in Iraq since the start of 2014 has topped 3.2 million.

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