Diseases: WHO concerned about rising number of cholera cases worldwide

The number of cholera outbreaks has increased worldwide this year.

Diseases: WHO concerned about rising number of cholera cases worldwide

The number of cholera outbreaks has increased worldwide this year. In the first nine months, 27 countries reported outbreaks, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported in Geneva on Wednesday. More than 10,000 cases have been reported from Syria alone in the past few weeks. Two cases have just been reported from Haiti after the country had been free of cholera for three years. The real number is probably much higher there.

The WHO did not give any worldwide case numbers. In mid-September, the European Health Authority (ECDC) reported almost 40,000 newly reported cases within one month. The WHO expects a high number of unreported cases because there are no reliable figures from many regions.

The development is worrying, said Tedros. Not only are there more outbreaks, but more people are dying. The death rate this year is almost three times higher than the average for the past five years. Cholera spreads where there is poverty and conflict and where people are struggling with the consequences of climate change, Tedros said.

Cholera is a bacterial diarrheal disease that causes severe dehydration. Infection usually occurs through drinking water contaminated with faeces or vomit from sick people. Without medical care, people can die within hours. With hydration, the chance of survival is high. "But the reality is that many people don't have access to such simple interventions," said Tedros.

In 2013, the WHO set up an emergency stockpile for cholera vaccines. But the material is not enough. "We call on the leading vaccine manufacturers to talk to us about how we can boost vaccine production," said Tedros.

WHO on cholera in general ECDC on cholera on 16 September 2022

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