• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Floods increase risk of cholera in Africa


Mar 6, 2023

BRAZZAVILLE March 3rd (XINHUA) – As the number of cholera cases decreases each week in affected African countries, heavy floods caused by seasonal rains and tropical cyclones in southern Africa increases the risk of the disease spreading, and threaten to jeopardize efforts aimed at fighting against epidemics, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday.

The number of new cholera cases fell to 2,880 in the week ending February 26, down 37 percent from the previous week, when 4,584 cases were recorded. The number of deaths has hardly changed, going from 82 to 81 over the same period. Twelve African countries are currently reporting cases, with South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe being the latest countries to report a cholera outbreak, the WHO Regional Office for Africa said in a statement.

In southern Africa, those cholera outbreaks come amid seasonal rains and tropical storms that have caused heavy flooding, including in Malawi, which is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in its history, the WHO has warned.

“Countries have stepped up measures to combat cholera and early indications are promising. However, heavy flooding and cyclones in parts of southern Africa are likely to accelerate the spread of the disease,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“We are strengthening our support to countries to increase their disease detection capacity, by providing medical equipment and improving their preparedness in localities at risk of flooding,” she said.

As part of the cholera response, WHO has deployed 80 experts to affected countries. Over the past two months, the organization has also sent 455 tons of essential supplies for cholera treatment to Malawi and Mozambique and to support preparedness in Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

The ongoing cholera epidemics in Africa are exacerbated by extreme weather events and conflicts that have made populations more vulnerable. Thus, people who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflicts or who have been impoverished by climatic phenomena have to face precarious living conditions.