October 9, 2017 | Geneva (Switzerland)
On October 4th, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) launched "Ending Cholera, A Global Roadmap to 2030," an ambitious new strategy to reduce deaths from cholera by 90% by 2030. Every year, cholera affects 2.9 million people and kills an estimated 95,000. Urgent action is needed to protect communities, prevent transmission and control outbreaks.
The GTFCC is a diverse network of more than fifty UN and international agencies, academic institutions, and NGOs that supports countries affected by the disease. Its new plan recognizes that cholera spreads in endemic “hotspots” where predictable outbreaks of the disease regularly occur.
The Global Roadmap aims to align resources, share best practices, and strengthen partnerships between affected countries, donors, and international agencies. It underscores the need for a coordinated approach to cholera control with country-level planning for early detection and response to outbreaks. By implementing the Roadmap, up to twenty affected countries could eliminate cholera by 2030.
“The World Health Organization is proud to be part of this new joint initiative to stop deaths from cholera. The disease takes its greatest toll on the poor and the vulnerable – this is quite unacceptable. This roadmap is the best way we have to bring this to an end,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization.
“Every death from cholera is preventable with the tools available today, including use of the Oral Cholera Vaccine and improved access to basic safe water, sanitation, and hygiene as set out in the Roadmap,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus. “This is a disease of inequity that affects the poorest and most vulnerable. It is unacceptable that nearly two decades into the 21st century, cholera continues to destroy livelihoods and cripple economies. We must act together. And we must act now.”
Advances in the provision of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services have made Europe and North America cholera-free for several decades. Today, although the United Nations recognizes access to WASH as a basic human right, over 2 billion people worldwide still lack access to safe water and are at risk of cholera. Weak health systems and low early detection capacity further contribute to the rapid spread of outbreaks.
Cholera disproportionally impacts communities already burdened by conflict, lack of infrastructure, poor health systems, and malnutrition. Protecting these communities before cholera strikes is significantly more cost-effective than continually responding to outbreaks.
The introduction of the oral cholera vaccine has been a game-changer in the battle to control cholera, bridging the gap between emergency response and longer-term control. Two WHO-approved oral cholera vaccines are now available and individuals can be fully vaccinated for just six dollars per person, protecting them from the disease for up to three years.
The Global Roadmap provides an effective mechanism to synchronize the efforts of countries, donors, and technical partners. It underscores the need for a multi-sectoral approach to cholera control with country-level planning for early detection and response to outbreaks.
By strengthening WASH in endemic “hotspots”, cholera outbreaks can be prevented. By detecting cholera outbreaks early, and responding immediately, large-scale uncontrolled outbreaks like the one observed in Yemen can be avoided – even in crisis situations.
About the GTFCC
The Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) is a network of more than fifty organizations bringing together partners involved in the fight against cholera across all sectors and providing a strong framework to support countries in intensifying efforts to control cholera.
The Launch of the Global Roadmap is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Mérieux Foundation and WaterAid.
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