Nigeria and 46 other African countries have adopted the Regional Framework for the Implementation of the Global Strategy for Cholera Prevention and Control at the ongoing 68th session of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Regional Committee for Africa, in Dakar, Senegal. According to WHO, health ministers from 47 African countries, at the meeting, have pledged to implement key strategies for ending cholera outbreaks in the region by 2030. WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said, “Cholera is a symbol of inequity. It’s an ancient disease, which has been eliminated in many parts of the world. Every death from cholera is preventable. We have the know-how and today countries have shown that they have the will to do whatever it takes to end cholera outbreaks by 2030.“

The organisation said that cholera is a major global public health problem, but the burden and impact of the waterborne disease is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa. Adding that in 2017, more than 150,000 cholera cases, including more than 3,000 deaths, were reported in 17 countries in Africa. It also said that this year, there has been a spike in cholera cases across Africa, with eight countries currently battling outbreaks while describing the region as vulnerable to cholera for a range of reasons.

“92 million people in Africa still drink water from unsafe sources. In rural areas, piped water is often unavailable and people practice open defecation. Humanitarian crises, climate change, rapid urbanisation and population growth are also increasing the risk of cholera spreading,” said WHO. It however expressed hope that “in adopting the Regional Framework, countries pledged to reduce by 90 per cent the magnitude of cholera outbreaks particularly among vulnerable populations and in humanitarian crises. “They agreed to take evidence-based actions, which include enhancing epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, mapping cholera hotspots, improving access to timely treatment, strengthening cross-border surveillance, promoting community engagement and the use of the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) as well as increasing investments in clean water and sanitation for the most vulnerable communities.