The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was awarded a four-year, $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the effective use of oral cholera vaccine around the world. The Delivering Oral Vaccine Effectively (DOVE) program will provide relief agencies and governments with technical assistance on how to use oral cholera vaccine, evaluate current vaccine-use practices and develop new field surveillance methods for monitoring and controlling outbreaks of the disease.
Cholera is an infectious disease caused by drinking unsanitary water. The disease is estimated to be responsible for between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths worldwide each year and infects as many as 2.5 million people annually. The oral cholera vaccine is over 70 percent effective and costs $1.85 per dose, but is not yet widely used in preventing outbreaks.
"We believe this grant will greatly facilitate the appropriate use of the new cholera vaccine. In partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other national and international agencies, we believe the DOVE project will provide the knowledge, technical assistance and encouragement to bring this life-saving vaccine to those who need it most," said David Sack, MD, director of DOVE and professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School.
In addition to researching and evaluating vaccine-use practices, DOVE will establish cholera surveillance in the northern region of Cameroon near Lake Chad, which appears to be a cholera hotspot. The site will help researchers develop and study methods for detecting outbreaks in remote areas and potentially for using oral vaccine to contain the disease.
The DOVE program will be part of a network of vaccine projects funded by the Gates Foundation to prevent outbreaks of cholera worldwide.