A third producer has come on board with the World Health Organization to supply vaccines that prevent this horrific illness.
The world is running perilously low on oral cholera vaccines, and the World Health Organization has finally decided to do something about it. According to a report from UPI, the WHO has recently approved a third producer to supply oral cholera vaccines, or OCVs. The approval is expected to double the global stockpile of OCVs.
There are currently two oral vaccines for treating cholera, called dukoral and shanchol. Each vaccine requires two doses to effectively prevent cholera. The addition of the South Korean firm to the list of approved manufacturers will allow roughly three million people to be vaccinated.
Recent research has shown that shanchol in addition to improved hygiene and fresh water supplies drastically reduce the incidence of cholera. To be effective, the WHO says that the vaccines need to be consistently promoted and distributed among targeted populations.
The WHO says that the decision to stockpile oral cholera vaccines was a joint international effort that draws on partnerships between private and public institutions including non-profit organizations, governments, pharmaceutical companies, research organizations and individual donors.
Cholera affects as many as 4.3 million people each year, and can kill a person within hours if it goes untreated. The WHO estimates that roughly 142,000 people die from cholera worldwide each year.
Demand for oral cholera vaccines has remained low in many parts of the world because of weak promotional efforts; many people simply did not know that it existed. By doubling the global stockpile, WHO officials hope that they will be able to build more robust distribution networks and get the vaccines to people who need them most.
Just last year, requests for OCVs from Sudan and Haiti were not met due to the extremely short supply. The increased production will certainly ease the pressure on health organizations to supply vaccines to places that need it, but the fight against cholera remains fierce in many countries.
A press release from the World Health Organization regarding the recent increase in oral cholera vaccine production can be found here.