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Zambian President, WHO Chief Outline Ways to Fight Cholera as Vaccines Run Out

© AP PhotoA worker carries a bucketfull of disinfectant at a cholera treatment centre, in Lusaka, Zambia
A worker carries a bucketfull of disinfectant at a cholera treatment centre, in Lusaka, Zambia - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 22.03.2024
A day earlier, the WHO called for urgent efforts to increase production of cholera vaccines, as global production capacity is insufficient to combat an unprecedented multi-year surge in cholera cases across the globe.
Amid a global shortage of oral cholera vaccines and overburdened health workers, countries battling the disease still have much work to do, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema and World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote in an op-ed for British media.

"There has been progress in some outbreak countries, but there is great concern over the epidemics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Along with the global shortage of oral cholera vaccines, other supplies are running low too," the article reads.

They said that basic public health services, including the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene, are critical in the fight against infection. It means investing in key infrastructure projects, while working directly with communities to co-produce solutions that serve their needs, according to the WHO chief and Zambian president.
 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 21.03.2024
World Produces Not Enough Vaccines to Fight 'Unprecedented Upsurge' in Cholera Cases, WHO Says
Another challenge is to improve a surveillance system that can detect outbreaks quickly, including well-equipped laboratories and access to diagnostic tests for effective treatment, the article reads.
Finally, cholera outbreak response and prevention campaigns are hampered by a lack of vaccine production capacity.
"Investing in cholera vaccine manufacturing – produced locally – is critical as the trend towards more and bigger outbreaks continues. The global community must support this, investing in manufacturing capacity and guaranteeing orders," the officials wrote.
The article noted that although more than 1 billion lives are at risk of falling victim to cholera, pharmaceutical companies do not serve the cholera market because of its low profitability.

"Poverty, conflict and climate catastrophes reflect mismanagement of resources, poor governance and failed leadership. Cholera is a mirror to the ills of the world, and humanity seems to be on a quest to amplify it," the article concludes.

A day earlier, the WHO said in a statement that global cholera vaccine production capacity in 2024 will be 37-50 million doses, "but will likely continue to be inadequate to serve the needs of millions of people directly affected by cholera" since there is only one manufacturer, EuBiologics, that produces the vaccine.
In Zambia, a cholera outbreak first reported in October 2023 has led to a sharp increase in transmission since mid-December. A total of 17,432 cases and 569 deaths have now been reported by authorities in the country.