Geneva, 6 October 2022 (dpa/MIA) — The number of cholera outbreaks has increased worldwide this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
In the first nine months of the year, 27 countries reported outbreaks, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
He noted that more than 10,000 cases have been reported from Syria alone over the past few weeks.
Meanwhile two cases were identified in Haiti, after it had been free of cholera for three years. The true number of cases is thought to be significantly higher.
The WHO did not provide an estimate of case numbers worldwide. In mid-September, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) reported almost 40,000 new cases had been identified within the space of a month.
According to the WHO, the real numbers of cases are far higher, but many regions are not providing reliable figures.
Tedros called the development worrying, as not only is the number of outbreaks growing but also more people are dying.
The death rate this year is almost three times higher than the average of the past five years, he said, noting that cholera spreads in places affected by poverty and conflict and where people are struggling with the effects of climate change.
Cholera is a life-threatening diarrhoeal disease that is often transmitted via faeces-contaminated drinking water. Without medical care, people can die within a few hours, although the chances of survival are far higher with hydration. “But the reality is that many people don’t have access to these simple interventions,” Tedros said.
“In 2013, WHO and our partners created an international stockpile of cholera vaccines, which last year shipped 27 million doses. But with an increasing number of outbreaks, supply cannot keep up with demand,” he added. He called on leading vaccine manufacturers to enter talks about ways to increase vaccine production.