Drugs Health Pharma

WHO maintains global cholera risk at “very high” category

The current global risk from cholera is “very high” with vaccines running short of demand, the World Health Organization stated.

HQ Team

December 8, 2023: The current global risk from cholera is “very high” with vaccines running short of demand, the World Health Organization stated.

Cholera cases have been on the rise in countries that have not seen the disease in years, according to a WHO statement.

In 2022, 44 countries reported cholera cases — a 25% increase from the 35 countries that reported cases in 2021. 

“This trend continues into 2023.” The recent outbreaks have also been more deadly, with case fatality rates being the highest recorded in over a decade.

Shortage of vaccines

This increase in outbreaks and cases is stretching the global capacity to respond. “There is a shortage of cholera tools, including vaccines.”

While the triggers for cholera outbreaks—like poverty and conflict—are enduring, climate change and conflict are now compounding the problem. 

Extreme climate events like floods, cyclones and droughts reduce access to clean water and create an ideal environment for cholera to thrive.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through food and water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, often from faeces.

With safe water and sanitation, cholera can be prevented. It can kill within hours when not treated, but immediate access to treatment saves lives.

African region worst-affected

Since the last multi-country cholera situation report published on November 2, 2023, no additional countries have reported new cholera or acute watery diarrhoea outbreaks as of November 15.

However, new outbreaks have been reported within affected countries. In total, 29 countries have reported cases since January 1, 2023. 

The WHO African Region is the most impacted, with 16 countries reporting cases since the beginning of the year.

Preliminary 2023 data from WHO member states indicate that the number of cases reported this year as of November 15 has surpassed that of 2022, with over 610,000 cases and 3,500 deaths, corresponding to a case fatality rate (CFR) of 0.6%. 

Global strategy

“This finding must be interpreted with caution given that 2023 data are not directly comparable to the more comprehensive official reports to WHO from previous years.

“Given the extensive number of outbreaks, their widespread distribution, and the current shortage of vaccines and other resources, WHO continues to assess the risk at the global level as very high.”

A global strategy on cholera control, Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030, with a target to reduce cholera deaths by 90% was unveiled in 2017.

Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21,000 to 143, 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *