DHAKA – Nearly 200 medical teams in Bangladesh on Tuesday began one of the largest cholera vaccination campaigns in history, which involved the administration of some 900,000 doses to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar and in the southeast of the country.
The campaign, the second largest oral vaccination ever after Haiti in 2016, was led by the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and would be carried out in two phases.
“In the initial phase, 650,000 people will be reached in the next few days,” UNICEF spokesperson in Bangladesh, Jean-Jacques Simon, told EFE.
In a second phase, which will start on Oct. 31, another 250,000 children will be given a booster dose for additional protection, he said.
These 900,000 people comprise more than 500,000 refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh since a fresh outbreak of violence in Myanmar on Aug. 25, and other members of the minority Muslim community who were already in Bangladesh after earlier exoduses, estimated to be between 300,000-500,000 people.
Vaccinations will also reach residents of the district communities that have housed refugees.
“There is a risk of outbreak, the sanitation is not good, there is not enough clean water and camps are overcrowded,” Cox’s Bazar District’s chief government health officer Abdus Salam told EFE.
On Saturday, the United Nations raised the figure to around 519,000 Rohingyas who have arrived in Bangladesh since the end of August, fleeing violence in Myanmar.
On Aug. 25, a Rohingya insurgent group staged a series of attacks on police and army posts in Rakhine state, to which the Myanmar military responded with an offensive, which is ongoing.
According to witnesses and human rights organizations, the army torched villages and killed an undetermined number of civilians, something the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”