Drop in cholera cases worldwide, as key endemic countries report gains in cholera control : WHO

World Health Organization

New Delhi/ Geneva,
20th December 2019 – The number of cholera cases decreased globally
by 60% in 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in a report that
points to an encouraging trend in cholera prevention and control in the world’s
major cholera hotspots, including Haiti, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of
the Congo.

“The
decrease we are seeing in several major cholera-endemic countries demonstrates
the increased engagement of countries in global efforts to slow and prevent cholera
outbreaks
and shows the vital role of mass cholera vaccination campaigns,”
said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We continue to
emphasize, however, that the long-term solution for ending cholera lies in
increasing access to clean drinking water and providing adequate sanitation and
hygiene.”

There were
499447 cases of cholera and 2990 deaths in 2018, according to reports from 34
countries. While outbreaks are still ongoing in various countries, the case
load represents a significant downward trend in cholera transmission that has
continued into 2019, according to data collected by WHO.

“The global
decrease in case numbers we are observing appears to be linked to large-scale
vaccination campaigns and countries beginning to adopt the Global Roadmap to
2030 strategy in their national cholera action plans,” said Dr
Dominique Legros, who heads WHO’s cholera programme in Geneva. “We must
continue to strengthen our efforts to engage all cholera-endemic countries in
this global strategy to eliminate cholera.”

Nearly 18 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) were shipped to 11 countries in 2018. Since the OCV stockpile was created in 2013, almost 60 million doses have been shipped worldwide.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has provided funding for purchase of the vaccine and financial support for the global vaccination drives.

The Global
Task Force on Cholera Control launched the Global Roadmap strategy for
effective long-term cholera control and elimination in October 2017. The Global
Roadmap aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90% and to eliminate transmission in
up to 20 countries by 2030. The strategy provides a framework for national
action plans that emphasize three main axes of cholera control:

Early detection and rapid response to contain outbreaks

a
multisectoral approach integrating strengthened surveillance, vaccination,
community mobilization and water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent cholera in
hotspots in endemic countries

an effective
mechanism of coordination for technical support, resource mobilization and partnership
at the local and global levels

“The Global
Roadmap provides clear guidance for how to prevent and, ultimately, to
eliminate cholera. Every death from cholera is preventable with the tools we
have today,” said Dr Tedros.

The new
report shows several countries, including Zambia, South Sudan,United Republic
of Tanzania, Somalia, Bangladesh, and Nigeria have made significant progress in
developing national action plans within the framework of the Global Roadmap
strategy.

“We are
seeing the results of countries reporting – and acting – on cholera. And these
countries are making remarkable gains in cholera control and prevention,” said
Dr Legros.

WHO, in
collaboration with partners, provides support to ministries of health in
countries affected by cholera to implement immediate, long-term cholera
control, including surveillance, outbreak response and preventive measures such
as OCV and risk communication.

In 2018, WHO
country offices worked with governments to respond urgently to major outbreaks
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia and
Zimbabwe. WHO also worked with countries to transition from outbreak response
to longer-term cholera control and elimination, in Haiti, United Republic of
Tanzania (Zanzibar) and Zambia.

What is Cholera

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if left untreated. WHO estimates that each year cholera infects 1 million to 4 million people and claims up to 143000 lives.

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