According to a WHO press release, Africa is facing an exponential increase in cholera cases amid a global epidemic. Cases across the continent were 30% higher in January than they were for the entire year prior. The majority of new infections and deaths have happened in Malawi, which is experiencing its deadliest outbreak in two decades.
Ten African nations are afflicted with cholera. The waterborne disease produces acute watery diarrhea and has the potential to kill within hours but is easily curable. Mozambique and Zambia, as well as Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Nigeria, have recorded cases in addition to Malawi.
Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are responding to outbreaks in the context of the record drought in the Horn of Africa, which has left millions in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, stated, “We are witnessing a worrisome picture in which conflict and extreme climatic events are exacerbating the causes of cholera and escalating its death toll.”
An estimated 26,000 cases and 660 deaths have been reported in the ten nations as of January 29. If the current trend continues, the number of cholera cases in Africa could surpass that of 2021, which was the deadliest year for the disease in over a decade. The average case fatality ratio is about 3%, which is beyond the 2.3% reached in 2022 and significantly exceeds the permitted range of less than 1%.
Dr. Moeti stated that it is crucial for African nations to increase their readiness to rapidly discover instances and launch a complete and prompt reaction. WHO is assisting governments in retaliation by enhancing disease surveillance, prevention, and treatment, as well as community participation.
Sixty-five experts were sent to five countries, including forty to Malawi, where approximately 37,000 cases of cholera and 1,210 deaths had been documented in all 29 districts since March.
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has supplied cholera kits and other supplies, including as oral rehydration salts, intravenous fluids, medications, fast diagnostic test kits, personal protective equipment, tents, and cholera beds.
In addition, it has sponsored the recruitment of dozens of doctors, nurses, and clinical technicians around the country and helped to establish nearly fifty rehydration stations in vulnerable communities. In addition, the World Health Organization distributed $6 million to launch an emergency cholera response in Malawi, Kenya, and Mozambique via the International Vaccine Consortium (ICG).
The global surge in cholera outbreaks has placed significant pressure on the supply of oral vaccinations to treat the disease. In October, the ICG halted the traditional two-dose program in favor of a single-dose strategy. A subsequent spread of cholera could exacerbate the scarcity.
“Every cholera-related fatality is preventable,” stated Dr. Moeti. This disorder presents both a health and a development issue. Consequently, investments in improved sanitation and access to safe water are a formidable complement to public health activities to control and eradicate cholera in a sustainable manner.