BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
THE Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) campaign rolled out on Monday by government will address the country’s challenges in managing the waterborne disease, addressing its growing antimicrobial resistance to first line typhoid treatment drugs, health specialists have said.
Zimbabwe has rolled out a typhoid vaccination campaign targeted at protecting vulnerable populations and children aged between nine months and 15 years.
Addressing the media during a virtual meeting convened by the Health ministry, experts in the health sector said this milestone achievement was part of efforts to eliminate the medieval disease, which has been nipped in the bud in many developed countries.
Zimbabwe became the third country in the world to adopt the vaccine as part of its immunisation programme.
Typhoid affects an average of 17 million people each year worldwide.
Expanded Immunisation Programme in Zimbabwe manager Coline Chigodo said government had taken that route to help reduce deaths due to typhoid after the management of the disease had become challenging, given the increased incidences of antimicrobial resistance, as well as the perennial water shortages in the country.
“We procured TCV with support from GAVI. This is a significant milestone. The vaccine will be targeting six million children aged between nine months to below 15 years. Zimbabwe adopted a catch up campaign to ensure more children benefited,” Chigodo said.
Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga launched the TCV campaign last Friday where he highlighted that government was targeting to eliminate cholera and typhoid.
“The Health ministry is also investing in strengthening and modernising the country’s health delivery system to reach everyone,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group chairperson Nhamo Gonah said a single dose of the vaccine had an 87% efficacy rate on adults and 84% in children.
“It is quite safe with a duration of immunity of up to five years. The side effects are the normal ones synonymous with vaccines. The vaccine will be introduced into the routine immunisation schedule. The integrated approach allows programmes to share campaign costs and reduce frequent visits to communities,” Gonah said.
The campaign started running on Monday and ends on June 4 as an integrated approach which will include polio and human papilomavirus (HPV) vaccinations and vitamin A.
HPV vaccines are given to young girls to prevent cervical cancer.
World Health Organisation representative Maxwell Rupfutse said typhoid was still a public health concern as children under 15 were among the most vulnerable.
“The highest death rates are reported in children under four years,” he said, adding that it was recommended that children should be inoculated with TCV at nine months as part of their normal immunisation.