(AFP) One billion people in 43 countries are at risk of cholera — a “pandemic killing the poor” — despite prevention and treatment being relatively straightforward, the United Nations warned on Friday.
The UN branded the outlook bleak, saying it did not have the resources to fight the outbreaks, and the longer it took to start waging the battle, the worse the situation would get.
Between the World Health Organization and the children’s agency UNICEF, the UN is seeking $640 million to fight the infectious disease, warning of a “cholera catastrophe” if action is not ramped up immediately.
Countries that are not usually affected by cholera are being affected and case fatality rates are far exceeding the typical one in 100.
Henry Gray, the UN health agency’s incident manager for the global cholera response, blamed the rise in cases on poverty, conflict and climate change, as well as the population displacements they trigger, which take people away from safer sources of food and water, and from medical support.
“With the increase in the number of countries affected by cholera, the resources that were available for prevention and response are more thinly spread,” he told a media briefing.
Jerome Pfaffmann Zambruni, the head of UNICEF’s public health emergency unit, said the rise in cases was “a wake-up call”.
“There is a pandemic killing the poor right in front of us and we know exactly how to stop it, but we need more support … ”