The International Coordinating Group (ICG), will temporarily suspend emergency supplies of the cholera standard two-dose vaccination regimen.
Instead, a single-dose approach will be used. The move is in response to cholera outbreak campaigns.
The change in strategy will allow for the doses to be used in more countries, at a time of unprecedented rise in cholera outbreaks worldwide.
Kenya’s ministry of health has issued a multi-county cholera outbreak alert with the Ministry of Health confirming cholera outbreak in six counties of Kiambu, Nairobi, Murang’a, Kajiado Nakuru and Uasin Gishu.
Acting Director General for Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth, said departments of Health of the affected counties have commenced response activities including field investigations, enhanced surveillance, laboratory testing, case management, risk communication, community engagement and environmental sanitation to prevent further spread of the disease.
WHO says that in comparison in the previous five years, fewer than 20 countries on average reported outbreaks and that the global trend is moving towards more numerous, more widespread and more severe outbreaks, due to floods, droughts, conflict, population movements and other factors that limit access to clean water and raise the risk of cholera outbreaks.
“The one-dose strategy has proven to be effective to respond to outbreaks, even though evidence on the exact duration of protection is limited, and protection appears to be much lower in children,” the statement from WHO says.
With a two-dose regimen, when the second dose is administrated within six months of the first, immunity against infection lasts for 3 years, it added.
The benefit of supplying one dose, WHO adds still outweighs no doses although the temporary interruption of the two-dose strategy will lead to a reduction and shortening of immunity and this decision will allow more people to be vaccinated and provide them protection in the near term, should the global cholera situation continue deteriorating.