New plan to cut Cholera deaths by 90% set for launch

Main entrance to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.

The horizon appears brighter for countries such as Nigeria burdened by cholera as an ambitious new strategy to reduce death from the disease by 90 per cent by 2030 will be launched on Wednesday by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control, GTFCC.

GTFCC is a diverse network of more than 50 UN and international agencies, academic institutions and NGOs that support countries affected by the disease.

Nigeria is expected to benefit from the new strategy as the country every year records deaths from cholera outbreak.

This year, 16 out of the 36 Nigerian states have experienced cholera outbreaks with 1,622 suspected cases and 33 deaths. Borno state is also currently making efforts to curtail cholera outbreak in the Internal Displaced Camps.

Cholera is an intestinal infection characterised by watery stool and diarrhoea.

The outbreak in Nigeria usually occurs during the rainy season when flooding usually contaminates surface water such as wells and rivers which are the major sources of water supply for many Nigerians.

According to a press statement released by the World Health Organisation on Tuesday, cholera kills an estimated 95,000 people and affects 2.9 million more every year.

The health agency said urgent action is needed to protect communities, prevent transmission and control outbreaks of the disease.

The health agency said the GTFCC’s new plan, ‘Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030,’ recognises that cholera spreads in endemic “hot spots” where predictable outbreaks of the disease occur year after year.

“The Global Road map 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,” it stated.

The Global Roadmap is expected to provide 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.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General WHO, said the organisation is proud to be part of the new joint initiative to stop deaths from cholera.

“The disease takes its greatest toll on the poor and the vulnerable, this is quite unacceptable. This roadmap is the best way we have to bring this to an end,” he said.

“Every death from cholera is preventable with the tools available today, including use of the Oral Cholera Vaccine and improved access to basic safe water, sanitation and hygiene as set out in the Roadmap.

“This is a disease of inequity that affects the poorest and most vulnerable. It is unacceptable that nearly two decades into the 21st century, cholera continues to destroy livelihoods and cripple economies. We must act together. And we must act now,” he said.

According to WHO, although access to WASH is recognized as a basic human right by the United Nations, over two billion people worldwide still lack access to safe water and are potentially at risk of cholera.

The organisation pointed out that 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 and the weak health systems and low early detection capacity further contribute to the rapid spread of outbreaks,” it said.

To prevent future outbreak of cholera, WHO approved two oral cholera vaccines which can protect an individual from the disease for up to three years.

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