'Worrying upsurge' in cholera worldwide: WHO
GENEVA, Sept 30, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - After years of decline, the planet is now
witnessing a "worrying upsurge" in cholera outbreaks, the World Health
Organization warned Friday.
In the first nine months of this year alone, 26 countries have reported
cholera outbreaks, the WHO said, adding that between 2017 and 2021, fewer
than 20 nations reported outbreaks per year.
"After years of declining numbers, we are seeing a worrying upsurge of
cholera outbreaks around the globe over the past year," Philippe Barboza, the
WHO's team lead on cholera and epidemic diarrheal diseases, told reporters in
"Not only do we have more outbreaks, but the outbreaks themselves are larger
and more deadly."
He said the average case fatality rate reported in 2021 had almost tripled
when compared to the five previous years.
Barboza said that alongside traditional triggers for cholera such as poverty
and conflict, climate change was increasingly part of the mix.
"Extreme climate events like floods, cyclones and droughts further reduce the
access to clean water and create an ideal environment for cholera to thrive,"
"As the impacts of climate change intensify, we can expect the situation to
worsen unless we act now to boost cholera prevention."
The WHO does not have a figure for the number of deaths caused by cholera,
mainly because affected countries do not produce the data.
- Vaccines scarce -
Barboza said the availability of vaccines was extremely limited with demand
outstripping supply, though there were a few million doses left that could be
used before the end of the year.
He said there simply was not enough vaccine to respond to outbreaks and also
implement preventative vaccination campaigns.
The expert said the main issue was that there was only one manufacturer
producing cholera vaccines, with companies unwilling to become involved if
they had to shoulder all the production costs themselves.
"We need to find ways to engage more manufacturers," said Barboza.
Although cholera can kill within hours, it can be treated with simple oral
rehydration, and antibiotics for more severe cases.
But many people lack timely access to such treatment.
Outbreaks can be prevented by ensuring access to clean water and improving
"The situation is serious, but it is not hopeless. Cholera is, after all,
preventable and treatable. With the right foresight and action, we can
reverse the trend," Barboza said.