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Guinea launches Ebola vaccination to end it “in 6 weeks”

The campaign was able to start after the arrival Monday evening in Conakry of more than 11,000 doses of vaccine provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), which plans to send 8,500 additional doses from the United States.

In the field, immunization began in Gouécké – also spelled Gouéké -, a locality in Forest Guinea (south) where the first cases linked to this Ebola resurgence were detected on February 13, five years after a deadly epidemic in West Africa.

Guinean authorities, whose figures have fluctuated, have so far generally cited five deaths since the resurgence of the disease.

In its last bulletin Tuesday evening, the health agency (ANSS) published a table counting six “community” deaths and two “hospital” deaths, including that of a “suspected case” who died on Monday in Nzérékoré, which would bring the number of dead at eight.

But in the same document, the ANSS reports “six deaths, including five probable cases and one case confirmed as of February 22”, making it difficult to establish an accurate assessment.

In Gouécké, half a dozen people, relatives of the nurse first affected and who died at the end of January, received a dose of the vaccine in a small freshly pitched tent on the outskirts of the decrepit health center of the city, noted a . journalist.

“I think that in six weeks, we can be done with this disease,” the Minister of Health, General Rémy Lamah, told . on the spot.

“The vaccines are able to help us stop the spread of the disease. They are intended primarily for the circle of contacts of the cases that we know, and also for a second circle possibly, to make sure we interrupt the chain of transmission” , said the WHO representative in Guinea, Georges Ki-Zerbo, who also made the trip.

A small ceremony brought together several dozen people in front of the health center, including young people, women and the prefect and the sub-prefect, who received the vaccine “to set an example”. An imam and a pastor took the floor to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Remove reluctance

Originally from the region, General Lamah admitted having had to parley a whole day with the local chiefs to overcome their reservations. And during the ceremony, he thundered against the “bad people” who refuse the vaccination.

Guinean health authorities, such as the WHO or specialized NGOs, know that without the support of the populations, it will be very difficult to fight effectively against this disease which causes sudden fever, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea, and whose average case fatality rate is 50% according to the WHO.

The worst Ebola epidemic since the identification of the disease in 1976 in the current Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where it continues to be rife regularly, including at this time, already began in Forest Guinea. , and where part of the population resists health measures.

The epidemic in West Africa caused more than 11,300 deaths from 2013 to 2016, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On Tuesday, the vaccination campaign also began in Dubréka, according to Dr. Halimatou Keïta, doctor in the hospital in this city on the outskirts of Conakry.

On Wednesday, it will continue in Nzérékoré, capital of Forest Guinea located about forty kilometers from Gouéké, where 1,600 doses of vaccines were delivered in two aerial rotations.

A total of 385 contact cases of the nurse and her relatives were identified on Tuesday, told . Bouna Yattassaye, deputy director of the National Agency for Health Security (ANSS). The vast majority of them are monitored and will be vaccinated as a priority.

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