Partners commit to reduce cholera deaths by 90 per cent by 2030


Partners commit to reduce cholera deaths by 90 per cent by 2030

A child suffering from cholera has his arm measured by a health professional with a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measuring tape to determine whether or not he is also suffering from malnutrition, at the Alsadaqah Hospital, Aden, Yemen, Monday 14 August 2017.

The world’s worst acute outbreak of acute watery diarrhea and cholera continues spreading in Yemen. Between late-April and July 2017, 436,625 suspected cases and 1,915 deaths had been reported in 21 of 22 governorates. Health, water and sanitation systems are struggling to function as a result of the ongoing conflict, and lack of regular salary payments for many public sector workers have created the ideal conditions for the disease to spread.

As part of efforts to halt the spread of AWD/cholera, UNICEF and its partners are reaching out to communities through a nationwide awareness campaign. Across Yemen, thousands of volunteers are going from house to house to raise awareness and provide advice to families on how they can best protect themselves from the potentially fatal infection. The teams provide 15 to 20 minutes of counselling, followed by demonstrations on how to properly wash hands with soap before eating food or after going to the bathroom. They also stress the importance of boiling water before drinking. The campaign is expected to reach 3.5 million families across the country.

© UNICEF/UN078075/Fuad

A child receiving treatment for cholera at the Alsadaqah Hospital, Aden, Yemen, Monday 14 August 2017.

UNICEF, WHO and others join in renewed push on deadly disease.

Geneva/HONG KONG, 3 October 2017 – An ambitious new strategy to reduce deaths from cholera by 90 per cent by 2030 will be launched tomorrow 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.

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.

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.

“The World Health Organization is proud to be part of this 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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization.

“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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization. “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.”

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.

“It is intolerable that so many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children should die as a result of cholera,” said Ted Chaiban, Director of UNICEF’s global programmes.  “We know how to prevent it. This requires the commitment and action from all sides, including investment in safe water and sanitation, key health interventions and engaging communities on basic health and hygiene behaviours. We can make a difference.”

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.

The introduction of the oral cholera vaccine has been a game-changer in the battle to control cholera, bridging the gap between emergency response and longer-term control. Two WHO-approved oral cholera vaccines are now available and individuals can be fully vaccinated for just HK$46.8 per person, protecting them from the disease for up to three years.

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.