Cholera is one of the most ancient scourges of Humankind with periodic appearances in regions of extreme poverty and/or devastated by war or natural disasters. Transmitted by the faeco-oral route, the Koch bacillus spreads when the disadvantaged populations lack good water and proper sanitation services; it disproportionately affects children and their mothers.
An editorial in “The Lancet” stated that “the global annual cholera burden is estimated at around 2.9 million cases per year, resulting in 95000 death. In 2017, these estimates could be far exceeded due to a number of devastating outbreaks, including those in Yemen and northern Nigeria. So far this year, 750000 possible cases, causing over 2000 deaths, have occurred in Yemen.”
This deadly disease is endemic in more than 40 countries where the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure is completely inadequate. At present the biggest incidence occurs in endemic areas of Africa, which has been worsened by the accelerated urbanisation that created slums in cities.
The design of an oral cholera vaccine (OCV) and the scientific study of the acquired immunity in humans have fostered the implementation of better and safer vaccination campaigns to control the epidemics; the WHO has stockpiled a good supply of vaccines in strategic depots in the affected areas.
Since 2013, 13 million vaccines have been used on an emergency basis. The Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) has pooled the resources and know-how of contaminated countries, private donors and academicians in order to develop a multi-faceted strategy to eradicate the disease for good.
The GTFCC designed a three-pronged approach to combat the disease:
a) Rapid response to outbreaks with good community surveillance and delivery of control kits, oral vaccines and WASH supplies in depots.
b) Create a sustainable WASH infrastructure and health care systems.
c) Coordination of the regional and international systems of support
We have the scientific know-how and technical capacity to end the cholera pandemics with the proper sanitary measures, as long as we protect the “equality” of the access of vulnerable communities to the right services and therapies. Why aren’t we doing more to eradicate this scourge from the face of our planet?
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.