WHO reports exponential increase in cholera cases in Africa — Global issues
Across the continent, cases in January were 30% higher compared to last year.
Most of the new infections and deaths have occurred in Malawi, which is facing the worst outbreak in 20 years.
10 countries affected
Overall, 10 African countries are affected by cholera. Waterborne illness causes acute diarrhea and can kill within hours but is easily treatable.
Besides Malawi, cases have been reported in neighboring Mozambique and Zambia, as well as in Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nigeria.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are also responding to disease outbreaks amid a historic drought in the Horn of Africa that has left millions in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
‘A worrying scenario’
“We are witnessing a worrying prospect when conflict and extreme climate events Dr Matshidiso Moeti said that is exacerbating the causative agent of cholera and increasing the number of deaths. WHO Africa Regional Director.
As of January 29, an estimated 26,000 cases and 660 deaths have been reported in 10 countries.
WHO warns that if current trends continue, cases could surpass the number recorded 2021 – the worst year for cholera in Africa in nearly a decade.
The average fatality rate is close to three percent, well above the 2.3 percent achieved in 2022 and well beyond the acceptable level of less than one percent.
Dr Moeti said: “It is important for African countries to increase readiness to quickly detect cases and provide a comprehensive and timely response.
WHO is helping governments fight epidemics, including by strengthening disease surveillance, prevention and treatment, and by increasing public participation.
65 experts have been deployed to five countries, with 40 in Malawi alone, where nearly 37,000 cholera cases and 1,210 deaths have been reported in all 29 counties since last March.
In addition, WHO distributed cholera kits and other supplies there, including oral rehydration salts, IV fluids, antibiotics, rapid diagnostic test kits, personal protective equipment. , tents and cholera beds.
It has also helped provide nearly 50 rehydration sites in vulnerable communities and assisted in the recruitment of dozens of doctors, nurses and clinical technicians across the country.
Need more investment
Furthermore, WHO has also disbursed $6 million to initiate cholera emergency responses in Malawi, Kenya and Mozambique, through an international vaccine partnership known as ICG.
The increase in cholera outbreaks globally has put enormous strain on the supply of oral vaccines to treat the disease.
In October, the ICG temporarily suspended the standard two-dose regimen in favor of a single-dose regimen. A cholera outbreak risks exacerbating shortages.
Dr Moeti said: “Every cholera death is preventable. “This disease is both a health challenge and a development challenge. Because such investments in better sanitation and access to safe water complement public health initiatives to sustainably control and end cholera.”