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Experts urge US to create emergency cholera vaccine stockpile for humanitarian use
Date:11/24/2010

In the wake of devastating cholera outbreaks in refugee camps in earthquake-wracked Haiti, a group of leading experts from Harvard Medical School, George Washington University, and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) have urged the United States to create an emergency stockpile of cholera vaccines for future humanitarian use.

"The costs to the U.S. of creating and maintaining a stockpile of several million doses of cholera vaccine would be low," said the experts in an article published online first on November 24 in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). "But the humanitarian benefits of rapid deployment of cholera vaccines to areas at high risk for major cholera outbreaks -- such as earthquake-wracked Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital where 1.3 million people live in unsanitary refugee camps -- could be enormous."

Prof. Matthew K. Waldor of Harvard Medical School; Prof. Peter J. Hotez of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University in the U.S; and Dr. John D. Clemens, Director General of the IVI in Korea jointly made this suggestion in their NEJM Perspective article entitled "A National Cholera Vaccine Stockpile a New Humanitarian and Diplomatic Resource."

In addition to the obvious health and humanitarian benefits that a national stockpile of cholera vaccine could yield, deployment of such a vaccine to regions of the world that are at high risk for a cholera epidemic offers numerous other benefits, the experts stated. "Outbreaks of cholera and other diarrheal diseases impede recovery from natural and man-made disasters," said Prof. Hotez. "They also destabilize poor communities, promoting poverty by interfering with agricultural productivity and adversely affecting food security, and thereby potentially igniting new conflicts or exacerbating existing ones. If the vaccine were available now, it could still be delivered to as-yet-unaffected parts of Haiti in time
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Contact: Tae Kyung Byun
tkbyun@ivi.int
822-881-1159
International Vaccine Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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