Oral Cholera Vaccine Development and Use in Vietnam

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Published in PLOS Medicine, September 2014, Volume 11, Issue 9, Anh DD et al

The emergence of cholera in Haiti highlighted the difficulties in containing cholera outbreaks with only safe water, sanitation, hygiene, and appropriate case management. In less developed settings where cholera occurs, these basic needs are often not met or are rapidly overwhelmed during man-made or natural disasters. Prior to the Haitian outbreak, countries in Africa and Asia had borne most of the cholera burden, with an estimated 1.4 billion people at risk, 2.8 million cases, and 100,000 to 200,000 deaths occurring annually [1,2]; however, because of  difficulties in surveillance and differences in reporting systems, only 245,393 cases with 3,034 deaths were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012 [1]. This figure does not include the large number of acute >watery diarrhoea cases reported in Asia, of which a significant proportion is caused by Vibrio cholerae. As cholera continues to be a global public health problem, in 2011, the World Health Assembly called for an integrated and comprehensive approach to cholera control, including oral cholera vaccines (OCVs) [3].

OCVs have been available for more than 20 years, but public health use has been limited. Vietnam is the first and currently the only country in the world to use killed OCVs routinely in its public health program. This article describes the cholera problem in Vietnam and how an oral cholera vaccine was developed and used as a component of a public health strategy against the disease.