by Ayele Addis Ambelu (Ayeleradio@gmail.com)
Ethiopia is currently experiencing active outbreaks of cholera and as of July 15, 2019, there have been 986 reported cases with the majority of cases occurring in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Afar Regions as well as in Addis Ababa City. The Amhara region reported the first suspected case of cholera on 28th April 2019 from Amahra, Telemt woreda. In Oromia the outbreak began with a report from Chiro woreda on May 16, 2019 with current case report 424. The latest cholera affected region is Afar, as of June 21, 2019 with current case report of 161.
Dr. Lia Tadesse State minister of Minister of Health, said during the launch of the Ethiopian multi-sectoral cholera elimination plan which runs from 2019 to 2030 that the move was a milestone in the health sector as it will provide a roadmap to end the waterborne disease.
“Based on epidemiologic data, which includes historical outbreaks of AWD as well as the current cholera outbreak, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health working in conjunction with governmental and non-governmental partners, developed a comprehensive OCV plan which employed a multi-sectoral approach prioritizing areas to be targeted for mass vaccination. This plan includes targeting populations currently experiencing the Cholera outbreak as well as priority areas based on a cholera hotspot mapping assessment.” She said.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said the organisation was “proud to be part of this new joint initiative to stop deaths from cholera”.
“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.
He stressed that this was 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.”
Dr Dominique Legros, who heads up the WHO’s cholera programme, said that,” In many countries, cholera is considered as a major public health problem with regular epidemics occurring during the rainy seasons.”
Dr. Ebba Abate Director General of Éthiopien public Heath Institute, said Ending Cholera Roadmap was developed to maintain the focus on the disease and address three trends that are contributing to cholera’s resurgence worldwide: climate change, population growth and urbanization. Conflict and humanitarian emergencies are also important drivers of cholera’s spread, as they contribute to displace people in informal settlements with limited access to safe water and lack of adequate sanitation conditions.
Dr. Agrey Bategereza The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced, The Roadmap’s tenets are to end cholera as a public health threat in up to 20 countries and reduce deaths by 90% by 2030. Countries with known cholera hotspots have engaged with the GTFCC as “early adopters” of the Ending Cholera Roadmap. These countries have the political leadership to address their hotspots and eliminate or control cholera using a broadly inclusive multi-sectoral approach; and their experiences will help other countries to begin eliminating cholera as well. The Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) can support countries in the development and implementation of the national multi-sectoral cholera elimination or control plans.
The Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) — a network of more than 50 UN and international agencies, including governments, aid agencies and donors — launched the strategy in October 2017. Cholera kills an estimated 95,000 people and affects 2.9 million more every year. The GTFCC has produced its Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030, recognising that cholera spreads in endemic “hotspots” where predictable outbreaks of the disease occur year after year.
The roadmap document aims to “align resources, share best practice and strengthen partnerships between affected countries, donors and international agencies”, the WHO said. The health organisation said the move emphasises the need for “a coordinated approach to cholera control with country-level planning for early detection and response to outbreaks”.
At the 71st session of the World Health Assembly held from the 21st to the 26th of May 2018, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to end cholera by 2030.
The Ethiopian government has committed to developing a National Cholera Elimination Plan (NCEP) ending cholera by 2030. In March 2019, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) requested the Global Task Force for Cholera Control (GTFCC) for Cholera vaccine to vaccinate Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and high risk populations. The FMoH also committed to develop a multi Sectoral Cholera Elimination Plan in line with the frame work of the GTFCC.
Cholera infection is caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with bacteria called vibrio cholerae. The loss of lives due to cholera could be avoided because it is a disease that can be prevented with effective and targeted strategies, adequate implementation, effective monitoring systems, political commitment and financial support. These moving pivots cannot be done in isolation but require a multi sectoral approach.