71st World Health Assembly: New Resolution on Cholera Prevention and Control

At the 71st World Health Assembly, held from 21-25 May 2018, delegates adopted a resolution on cholera prevention and control urging Member States and the Director General to act on cholera prevention and urging cholera-affected countries to implement a roadmap that aims to reduce deaths from the disease by 90% by 2030. The resolution also calls on WHO to increase its capacity to support countries fighting the disease; strengthen surveillance and reporting of cholera; and reinforce its leadership and coordination of global prevention and control efforts.

The Global Taskforce on Cholera Control (GTFCC) has commended the bold leadership of the Governments of Zambia and Haiti for introducing the resolution at WHA71 by, with the support from an additional eight countries; Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, and the United States of America.

Cholera kills an estimated 95 000 people and affects 2.9 million more every year, disproportionally impacting communities already burdened by conflict, lack of infrastructure, poor health systems and malnutrition. Over 2 billion people worldwide still lack access to safe water and are at potential risk of the disease.

‘Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030’ was launched last year by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) and underscores the need for a coordinated approach to combat the disease with country-level planning for early detection and response to outbreaks, and long-term preventive water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) interventions.

On Wednesday 23rd May the Global Taskforce on Cholera Control (GTFCC) and the Government of Zambia, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, brought together Member states and GTFCC partners to celebrate the progress being made by countries in the fight against cholera.

The Honorable Minister of Health of Zambia Dr Chitalu Chilufya reiterated the Government of Zambia’s commitment to drive elimination of cholera by 2025 through a multi-sectoral response which includes strengthening health systems alongside investments in WASH.

The Government of Haiti represented by the Honorable Minister. Dr Marie Gréta Roy Clément spoke on the political commitment to eliminate cholera in 2022 through using a combination of short, medium and long-term strategies.

High level attendees from Bangladesh and Zanzibar, as well as representatives from Zimbabwe also spoke of the successes and challenges of implementing multi-sectoral approaches to cholera control, including growing urbanization and the financial constraints to implement large scale water and sanitation improvements.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus stressed the urgency to act now before large disruptive outbreaks of cholera becomes the new norm, with increasing risks posed by urbanization, conflict and climate change. This week saw bold action by governments to raise it to the highest levels of global health, and WHO is proud to support countries to end cholera through a multi-sectoral approach.

For more information on GTFCC, select this link.

For more information on the 71st World Health Assembly, please click here.