The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) welcomes the release of the WHO Technical Working Group Report on oral cholera vaccine (OCV) stockpile. WHO convened the working group in April to develop an OCV stockpile implementation framework. Participants advised on the criteria for choice of stockpiled vaccine and its deployment; the appropriate size of an OCV stockpile; the managing partnership and evaluation processes required; the decision-making procedure and operational issues; and the financing mechanism.
The 64th World Health Assembly (2011) called for an integrated, comprehensive strategy of cholera prevention and control. The WHA Resolution 64.15 included consideration of the use of oral cholera vaccines (OCV) “where appropriate, in conjunction with other recommended prevention and control methods and not as a substitute for such methods."
This consideration was taken forward at a September 2011 consultation, which noted that an OCV stockpile for outbreak control could be initiated in the near future.
The IFRC is one of the founding members of the International Coordination Group for yellow fever vaccine and meningitis vaccine stockpile for outbreak response, together with WHO, UNICEF and MSF. IFRC was also actively taking part in the inception workshop of the OCV stockpile that generated the report.
Panu Saaristo, the IFRC senior officer responsible for emergency health, said: “The OCV will offer a valuable new component in the fight against cholera. Nevertheless, we must continue to address the root causes of the spread of diarrheal diseases and scale up our investment in sanitation, safe water and health education.”
Figures from the World Health Organization suggest that every 20 seconds a child dies from a water and sanitation-related disease – 4,000 children every day. Diarrhoeal disease claims the lives of 1.6 million children annually and is responsible for the hospitalization of millions more.
There are an estimated 3-5 million cholera cases and 100,000-120,000 deaths due to cholera every year.
During Stockholm World Water week from 27 – 31 August, the IFRC is launching “Getting the Balance Right: A Red Cross Red Crescent call to address the imbalance between sanitation and water,” an advocacy report that recommends that more can be done to address this global issue from three main perspectives: public health, development and human rights. Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies must use strong ties to communities as well as their unique auxiliary role to promote sanitation as everybody’s business; from individuals, families and communities to government leaders and the broader international community.