SWITZERLAND —The World Health Organization (WHO) has mobilized US$16 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies in a resolute response to the escalating cholera crisis

The battle lines are drawn, and it’s a relentless fight against an ancient scourge that threatens millions.

During an impactful online news conference, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, unveiled the organization’s multifaceted strategy.

The WHO’s commitment spans providing essential supplies, orchestrating on-ground responses alongside collaborative partners, empowering countries to detect, prevent, and treat cholera, and disseminating crucial guidance on self-protection.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus underscores the gravity of the situation, stating, “To support this work, we have appealed for US$160 million, and we have released more than US$16 million from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.

“But the real solution to cholera lies in ensuring everyone has access to safe water and sanitation, which is an internationally recognized human right.”

In a sobering revelation, the WHO has shared recent data showing a harrowing spike in cholera cases reported in 2022, more than doubling the figures from the preceding year.

Preliminary projections for 2023 appear even grimmer, painting a dire picture of the looming crisis.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus highlights the intensifying cholera outbreaks across nations, with Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, and Sudan emerging as the most concerning epicenters.

While remarkable progress has been witnessed in Southern African countries like Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, the advent of the rainy season looms ominously, keeping these nations on high alert.

Beyond borders, the cholera crisis has transcended boundaries, with Malawi’s healthcare system grappling with the surge, exacerbated by a global vaccine shortage.

The ramifications have spilled over into neighboring Zambia and Mozambique, heightening the WHO’s concerns over potential contagion to Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Across more than 10 African nations, a wave of cholera outbreaks has unfolded this year, with each nation facing its distinctive set of challenges.

In response, Malawi’s President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, launched the “End Cholera” campaign in partnership with the WHO, striving to turn the tide against this relentless adversary.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus paints a stark picture of the communities disproportionately affected by cholera. Impoverished and deprived of access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, they confront severe shortages of oral cholera vaccines, crucial supplies, and overburdened healthcare workers dealing with an onslaught of multiple disease outbreaks and health emergencies.

In tandem with the cholera crisis, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus sounds a clarion call on the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

As the northern hemisphere braces for winter, the WHO charts concerning trends, spotlighting an upsurge in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, particularly in the Americas and Europe.

Vaccination levels among high-risk groups present an alarming concern, with only one-third having received booster doses.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus issues a stern reminder that while COVID-19 may have evolved from an acute crisis, it demands unwavering attention.

Countries have invested substantially in fortifying their response systems, and it’s imperative to sustain these systems to protect, test, and treat against COVID-19 and other looming infectious threats.

Cholera, intrinsically linked to the absence of clean water and sanitation, casts a shadow over the United Nations’ Global Goal 6—universal access to clean water and sanitation.

The majority of cholera outbreaks afflict underdeveloped nations in the global south, where sanitation and clean water access are often a distant dream.

In 2022, nations like Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Malawi, Haiti, and the Philippines grappled with concerning outbreaks, and they remain hotspots in this ongoing crisis.

The cholera epidemic poses a formidable challenge to the overarching mission of achieving the UN’s Global Goal 3—ensuring good health and well-being for all.

These Global Goals, comprising 17 interconnected objectives, including healthcare and clean water access, collectively strive to eradicate extreme poverty on a global scale.

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