According to initial information from the World Health Organization, there was a significant increase in cases of cholera last year. The organization reported a total of 4,000 deaths and 667,000 cases worldwide.
The amount exceeded that of 2022, and the World Health Organization has designated the worldwide increase in cholera cases as a level 3 emergency, its most severe internal health emergency level.
The outbreaks in Malawi and Haiti were the most lethal, with 1,771 and 1,156 deaths respectively. This was the most severe outbreak recorded in Malawi.
Machinda Marongwe, the programme director of Oxfam in Southern Africa, expressed concern over the alarming number of cases and deaths, which are placing immense strain on the healthcare systems in these countries. He also stated that the situation is quickly deteriorating into a health emergency that is difficult to manage.
Since the start of 2024, more than 30 countries have documented instances. In October alone, Zambia recorded 7,500 new cases, with an additional 500 cases and 17 fatalities in a span of 24 hours this week.
“The President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, has encouraged individuals to relocate from urban areas to rural areas due to the continued closure of schools in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. There have been reports of unrest fueled by false information regarding the outbreak, originating from neighboring Mozambique.”
During a violent eruption in northern Mozambique this week, at least three individuals perished as assailants set fire to structures amidst claims that the government intentionally caused the spread of the illness.
Marongwe stated that governments and agencies in the area require urgent financial support to promptly carry out initiatives and plans that will enhance sanitation and access to clean water for the public. These two elements are crucial in combating the spread of disease.
Cholera is an infectious illness caused by bacteria that can be transmitted through water and food that has been contaminated. This disease can lead to severe symptoms such as excessive diarrhea and vomiting.
The World Health Organization has stated that due to the spread of the outbreak to additional countries and a global shortage of cholera vaccines, they are still evaluating the disease’s risk level as “extremely high”.
In the beginning of last year, Gavi, a global organization for vaccinations, stated that they anticipate the global deficit to continue until at least 2025.
Natural disasters and floods have worsened the spread of the waterborne illness. In the past year, eastern Africa experienced severe flooding, which was made worse by the climate emergency.