Third cholera vaccination being developed in Bangladesh

It took 35 years for researchers in Bangladesh and other countries to develop an effective cholera vaccine. The International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, (icddr,b) in Dhaka, Bangladesh was at the center of researching and developing a treatment protocol that saves 99.9 percent of cholera patients. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this protocol has saved about 50 million lives in the past four decades.

The New York Times reported on Feb. 6. that a local company in Bangladesh has started to make a cheap, effective cholera vaccine called Vaxchol. There are already two vaccines available; Shanchol approved in 2011 and Euvichol approved in 2015.

According to the WHO, cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The disease can kill within hours if left untreated. Researchers estimate that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide.

During the 19th century, cholera spread across the world from its original reservoir in the Ganges in India. The WHO reports that cholera is still prevalent in countries such as China, India, Nigeria and 1.4 billion people worldwide are still at risk. Cholera can be treated successfully through administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS).

The icddr,b was founded in 1960 by the US as a Cholera Research Laboratory. According to the New York Times, research hospitals were built in friendly countries to save lives locally and to look out for diseases that might threaten America. The icddr,b mission statement says they are are committed to solving public health problems facing low- and middle-income countries through innovative scientific research.

Even with an effective cure and three types of vaccinations, cholera still takes many lives around the world. Those in developing countries cannot afford the vaccination or the cure. The root of the problem lies in a lack of safe water and adequate sanitation. Diseases in smaller, less developed countries must be taken as seriously as those in large, industrialized ones.