United Nations health agency announced doubling of oral cholera vaccines as a new approval has been granted to a South Korean producer. Cholera is a pandemic disease requiring that the global shortage of vaccines to tackle it is urgently addressed.
Against this background, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken the necessary steps to counter the oral cholera vaccines shortage. Thus, the United Nations health agency announced doubling of oral cholera vaccines. This year’s global supply should reach six million doses due to the approval granted to the South Korean producer. During the following period, the global supply of OCV should steadily increase.
Cholera is responsible for 142,000 death yearly. The disease causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, leading to death. Although cholera is a pandemic disease, most breaking news refer to the sudden epidemics.
Last year, Haiti and Sudan have pleaded with the United Nations health agency for an increased supply of oral cholera vaccines. These would have been necessary to conduct vaccination campaigns to prevent infections and further spreading of cholera. However, at the time, the demands of the two states could not be met.
The South Korean producer has been approved by the World Health Organization under the agency’s pre-qualification program. The program sets a number of high standards for the safety, efficacy and quality of drugs purchased by international agencies and states as well. With the approval, the United Nations health agency is hopeful that a series of issues can be efficiently tackled in order to for the incidence of cholera cases to fall dramatically.
Among these issues, the WHO counted low demand coupled with low production as well as high prices and inequitable access to oral cholera vaccines. Annually, there are 1.4 to 4.3 million cases of cholera according to WHO records. Over 50 countries count cholera as an endemic disease.
Due to climate change and natural phenomenons such as El Nino, droughts or flooding cause frequent cholera outbreaks around the world. As such, the need for oral cholera vaccines has increased rapidly in recent years. Since 1997, OCVs have been used massively, as much as the stocks allowed to. However, high prices have limited poor communities’ access to the vaccines. Demand also remained low here for the same reason, despite poor communities being the most affected.
The United Nations health agency created the first stockpile of oral cholera vaccines only in 2013. As a result, over two million doses were bought yearly to increase demand for the products.
Photo Credits: Flickr