Target: Dr. Sophie Delaunay, executive director of Doctors Without Borders
Goal: Praise the development of a more accessible cholera vaccine with huge potential to save lives in the developing world
Cholera is a disease caused by an infection of the intestine, and often results in death. During a recent cholera outbreak in Africa many lives were saved from the disease’s deadly symptoms, dehydration and diarrhea, through the use of the oral vaccine Shanchol. Aid organization Doctors Without Borders and its partners were able to distribute more than 316,000 doses of this less expensive oral vaccine, with most people receiving the double dose recommended for populations already impacted by cholera outbreaks.
Doctors Without Borders conducted a study on the oral vaccine, developed in Vietnam and is manufactured in India, and found it had an 86% effectiveness rate. The World Health Organization (WHO) only recognized cholera as a disease treatable via vaccine in 2010 and has since released two vaccines. These medicines, in particular Dukoral, cater more towards well-off visitors rather than average community members, and thus have limited ability to address epidemics that largely impact people in poverty.
At over $5 a dose and requiring alkaline soda as an additional component, Dukoral injections have not been an option for many people in Africa. The oral vaccine Shanchol costs less than $2 dollars per dose and is easily drunk in a gulp. There is potential for the price to drop even lower as production increases, perhaps to less than $1 dollar per dose.
Praise Doctors Without Borders for going the extra mile to help those afflicted with cholera obtain life-saving treatment.
Dear Dr. Delaunay,
Cholera can lead to death from dehydration and diarrhea and afflicts populations across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has long stalled in addressing this pressing problem. The WHO only recognized cholera vaccines in 2010 and has provided the people of Africa limited relief with its vaccine, Dukoral, seen by many as intended more for wealthy tourists than for the native population.
Thank you for collaborating to ensure distribution of a more easily accessible oral vaccine for cholera. Improving access to life-saving cholera vaccines is a tremendous gift to humanity. Shanchol offers hope for a healthier population and has already saved many lives. I applaud your work thus far, and urge you to continue your noble quest to help those in greatest need–too often overlooked in the development of life-saving medicines.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Logan Abbassi via Caribbean Journal