Somalia Battles Cholera Outbreak

WHO to Rollout Cholera Rapid Diagnostic Tests Globally

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced plans to deploy cholera rapid diagnostic tests to combat the increasing infections globally.

The WHO revealed that Malawi has received the first shipment of the tests, marking the beginning of a worldwide diagnostics programme aimed at enhancing the detection of outbreaks.

According to a statement by the UN health agency, over 1.2 million tests will be distributed to 14 high-risk countries in the coming months, as mentioned in a statement by the UN health agency.

It was indicated that countries severely affected by cholera outbreaks, such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria, and Zambia, will receive kits in this largest-ever global deployment in the upcoming weeks.

The programme is a collaborative effort, with funding and coordination managed by the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and procurement overseen by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Both WHO and the Global Task Force on Cholera Control are providing their support for the initiative.

The aim of the programme is to assist countries in accelerating and enhancing the accuracy of cholera outbreak detection and response by strengthening routine surveillance and testing capabilities, as highlighted by the organizations.

Gavi’s Chief Programme Officer, Aurelia Nguyen, the critical impact of the announcement is the fight against the disease amid a significant increase in cholera cases worldwide.

Cholera, caused by a bacterium typically transmitted through contaminated food or water, results in diarrhoea and vomiting and poses a significant risk to young children.

Global cholera cases reported to WHO in 2022 reached 473,000, doubling from the previous year, with preliminary data suggesting over 700,000 cases were reported the following year.

The surge in outbreaks has led to a surge in vaccine demand from affected countries, creating a global shortage despite an eighteen-fold increase in the global supply of oral cholera vaccines between 2013 and 2023, as indicated in Friday’s statement.

As a result, preventive vaccination campaigns have been delayed to prioritize doses for emergency responses to outbreaks.

Simultaneously, the occurrence of repeated outbreaks in countries where emergency vaccination drives have already been conducted underscores the urgent need for swift and accurate identification of areas with ongoing or emerging transmission, according to the statement.

Head of UNICEF’s supply division, Leila Pakkala, said, “Surveillance diagnostics play a crucial role in pinpointing specific hotspots, enabling partners to strategically allocate cholera vaccines where they can save the most lives,”