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Updated On: Saturday, 21 July 2018
Development Issues

WHO Unveils New Cholera Strategy

Content by: South-South News

6 october 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — An ambitious new strategy to reduce deaths from cholera by 90 percent by 2030 was launched on October 4 by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), a diverse network of more than 50 UN and international agencies, academic institutions, and NGOs that supports countries affected by the disease.

Cholera kills an estimated 95 000 people and affects 2.9 million more every year. Urgent action is needed to protect communities, prevent transmission and control outbreaks.

Peter Salama, the Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Emergencies, said, “The aim of this roadmap is to eliminate cholera as a global public health threat by the year 2030. That entails reducing by 90 percent the overall cholera deaths in the 47 countries affected by cholera. And indeed in 20 of those countries eliminating cholera entirely.”

The GTFCC’s new plan, Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030, recognizes that cholera spreads in endemic “hotspots” where predictable outbreaks of the disease occur year after year. “In this day and age, it is unacceptable that a disease such as cholera, an ancient disease, is affecting the developing world,” Salama said.

The Global Roadmap aims to align resources, share best practice and strengthen partnerships between affected countries, donors and international agencies. It underscores the need for a coordinated approach to cholera control with country-level planning for early detection and response to outbreaks. By implementing the Roadmap, up to 20 affected countries could eliminate cholera by 2030.

“Under the Global Taskforce for Cholera Control, we have more than 40 partners really involved in this program,” Salama said, “They have been meeting for some time, but we have never seen such a momentum as we do today on the overall cholera strategy and a real conviction that we can eliminate this disease as a major public health threat globally.”

Advances in the provision of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services have made Europe and North America cholera-free for several decades. Today, although access to WASH is recognized as a basic human right by the United Nations, over 2 billion people worldwide still lack access to safe water and are potentially at risk of cholera. Weak health systems and low early detection capacity further contribute to the rapid spread of outbreaks.

Salama said, “We expect the countries affected by cholera to work closely with WHO and all of its technical partners to develop a realistic roadmap to eliminate cholera as a public health threat from their countries. If they can, we also hope that they will contribute their own domestic resources to this fight because it will have a benefit not just for the cholera disease burden, but for all water and sanitation associated diseases in their country.”

Cholera disproportionally impacts communities already burdened by conflict, lack of infrastructure, poor health systems, and malnutrition. Protecting these communities before cholera strikes is significantly more cost-effective than continually responding to outbreaks.

“We are also hoping that both private and public sector donors will step up to the plate and really reaffirm that it is unacceptable in this day and age that this scourge is really affecting the most vulnerable people around the world and we are prepared really to invest in stopping this disease,” Salama added.

The Global Roadmap provides an effective mechanism to synchronize the efforts of countries, donors, and technical partners. It underscores the need for a multi-sectoral approach to cholera control with country-level planning for early detection and response to outbreaks.

By strengthening WASH in endemic “hotspots”, cholera outbreaks can be prevented. By detecting cholera outbreaks early, and responding immediately, large-scale uncontrolled outbreaks like the one observed in Yemen can be avoided – even in crisis situations.


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