Zambia has proposed a resolution on cholera at this year’s World Health Assembly under the strategic priority on public health preparedness and response.
This will lead to increased global attention to the problem of cholera in order to address the drivers of the disease and accelerate its elimination.
Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in charge of Health Services Dr Jabbin Mulwanda proposed the resolution to be considered on the agenda at the 71st World Health Assembly to be held in May this year in Geneva, Switzerland
The Permanent Secretary made this proposal at the ongoing World Health Organisation Executive Board 142 session in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr Mulwanda said having considered the report by the Director-General on the provisional agenda of the 71st World Health Assembly, Zambia has proposed a resolution on cholera at this year’s World Health Assembly under strategic priority 11.3 on public health preparedness and response.
He said there is an urgent need for a renewed focus on cholera given it is a growing public health threat and one which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change in years to come if not addressed now.
He said cholera still affects at least 47 countries across the globe, with an estimated 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths worldwide every year.
Dr Mulwanda said it is a disease of inequity, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable populations. 2017 saw some of the worst outbreaks of cholera in recent history.
“For instance, in Zambia, we are in the midst of a devastating outbreak, where almost 4,000 cases and 77 deaths have been reported. Unfortunately, our situation is not unique. Some of our neighbouring countries have faced similar challenges,” Dr Mulwanda said
Dr Mulwanda said lack of progress on cholera prevention signals a lack of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The recent launch of the Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030 by the Global Taskforce on Cholera Control sets out a new strategy to reduce mortality from cholera by 90% by 2030 in line with the SDGs and eliminate the disease in up to 20 countries, through enhancing the response to outbreaks and strengthening prevention and preparedness through a multi-sectoral approach.
However, achieving these ambitious objectives requires high level political commitment and strategic leadership by WHO and Member States to strengthen long term prevention and control, through a multi-sectoral approach including improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene.
In light of this, Zambia proposes that a resolution on cholera is brought to the Seventy-First World Health Assembly, and call on the other Member States to support this.
The statement received support from WHO member states and the request for the Executive Board to include a resolution on agenda items to be considered by the 71st WHA in May 2018 was granted.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH