African health ministers strategize to end cholera by 2030

Dakar, Senegal Health ministers from African countries, including Ghana, have pledged to implement key strategies to end cholera outbreaks in the Region by 2030.

Forty-seven African countries have adopted the Regional Framework for the Implementation of the Global Strategy for Cholera Prevention and Control at the 68th Session of the World Health Organisation’s Regional Committee for Africa (WHO-AFRO), which has ended in Dakar, Senegal.

They agreed to take evidence-based actions, which include enhancing epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, mapping cholera hotspots, improving access to timely treatment and strengthening cross-border surveillance.

Promoting community engagement, the use of the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) as well as increasing investments in clean water and sanitation for the most vulnerable communities are other interventions.

DrMatshidisoMoeti, the WHO-AFRO Regional Director, 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.

WHO is working hand in hand with countries, providing key technical expertise and guidance, said DrMoeti.

The Oral cholera vaccine has been shown to be highly effective and WHO has facilitated the vaccination of millions of people across Africa. We must continue to expand use of this new strategy, said the Regional Director.

MrKwakuAgyeman Manu, the Minister of Health, in a statement at the Session, said Ghana had adopted the Framework and using it to revise its guidelines for the management of cholera outbreaks, attested by the low record in the country.

“We trust and count on the expertise of WHO-AFRO to provide leadership in the Africa Region to stem the disease.”

He said the Regional Implementation Framework would provide the necessary mileage for the elimination of the disease by 2030.

Cholera is a major global public health problem, but the burden and impact of the waterborne disease is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, more than 150,000 cholera cases, including more than 3000 deaths, were reported in 17 countries Africa.

This year there has been a hike in cholera cases across Africa, with eight countries currently battling outbreaks.

The Region is vulnerable to cholera for a range of reasons including 92 million people drinking water from unsafe sources in Africa.

In rural areas, pipe-borne water is often unavailable and people practice open defecation. Humanitarian crises, climate change, rapid urbanization and population growth are also increasing the risk of cholera.

In adopting the Regional Framework, countries pledged to reduce by 90 percent the magnitude of cholera outbreaks, particularly among vulnerable populations and in humanitarian crises.

From 2013 to 2017, WHO supported 65 cholera vaccination campaigns and supplied more than 16 million doses of vaccines to 18 countries globally, including 11 in Africa.

Many of the risk factors for cholera such as poor sanitation and rapid urbanization lie outside of the health sector and so WHO is working with a broad coalition of partners to engage with all relevant sectors to build a comprehensive and sustainable response throughout the Region.

Source: Ghana News Agency