|- Supply adequate to vaccinate 65,000 people to prevent outbreaks|
- Funds for purchase donated by Korean government for use in humanitarian emergencies
SEOUL, Korea - The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and Crucell, a vaccine producer in the Netherlands, will provide cholera vaccine to Myanmar to assist this Southeast Asian country in preventing outbreaks of cholera following the recent cyclone that devastated the country. The IVI, based in Seoul, Korea is an international organization devoted to the accelerated development and deployment of new and underutilized vaccines for developing countries.
In response to a request to the IVI from the Ministry of Health of Myanmar, the IVI negotiated acquisition of 136,680 doses of the oral recombinant B subunit-killed whole cell cholera vaccine, produced by Crucell. This vaccine is the world´s only cholera vaccine approved by the World Health Organization for use in developing countries. Half of the doses will be purchased by IVI, at a price negotiated to be Crucell’s actual production cost, and half will be donated for free by Crucell.
The number of doses will be enough to vaccinate more than 65,000 people, as it requires 2 doses to immunize a person. The internationally licensed vaccine will be transported via air to the Ministry of Health in Myanmar on August 7 (local time). Funds to purchase the vaccines were sourced from a donation from the Republic of Korea to the IVI for use for cholera relief and control in emergency settings.
The IVI´s cholera vaccine supply to Myanmar comes as part of an effort by international organizations and relief agencies that have been rushing to provide relief to victims of the cyclone that ravaged the country on May 2.
Myanmar, with a population of 55.4 million, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. According to WHO, about 2.4 million people have been affected by Cyclone Nargis that struck the Ayeyarwaddy Delta,Yangon, and five southern divisions and states. More than 80,000 people reportedly died, with an estimated 50,000 still missing.
Experts say diarrhea, fever, and respiratory diseases are the most common health problems encountered following such a disaster. "The populations affected by the cyclone in Myanmar are at immediate risk of contracting communicable diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever," said Dr. Anna Lena Lopez, an IVI epidemiologist who is overseeing the planned vaccine disbursement.
Cholera and typhoid fever are endemic in the region. Following the destruction and flooding wrought by the cyclone, the immediate risk of waterborne diseases is significant. "Risk factors for cholera transmission include crowding, poor access to safe drinking water, inadequate hygiene and sanitation facilities. Also, the destruction of infrastructure may lead to unsafe food preparation and handling practices,” Dr. Lopez said.
Usual water sources can become unsafe to drink for a number of reasons following massive floods: the incursion of floodwaters, fecal contamination caused by overflow of latrines, and inadequate sanitation and contamination of interconnected water sources. "The cholera vaccine that we are providing, which has been proven effective against cholera in populations living in conditions with poor water and sanitation, can significantly reduce the risk of cholera among the local population," said Dr. John Clemens, Director General of the IVI.
"The cholera vaccine supply to Myanmar is especially significant to the IVI because we were able to respond to the request of Myanmar in a time of a health crisis" Dr. Clemens said. "The IVI will seek to expand our role in helping people in dire health emergencies, such as those that follow disasters such as floods and earthquakes."About IVI
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI), based in the Republic of Korea, is the world´s only international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the world´s poorest people, especially children in developing countries. Established as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program in 1997, the IVI operates under a treaty signed by 40 countries and the World Health Organization. The Institute conducts research in 28 countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America on vaccines against diarrheal infections, bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, as well as Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever, and develops new and improved vaccines at its headquarters in Seoul. For more information, visit www.ivi.int