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The Surge of Cholera in Africa Attributed to Climate Change

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has attributed the most severe cholera outbreak in three years to climate change. According to Africa CDC, adverse weather conditions are increasing the risk of cholera at a faster rate in Africa compared to the rest of the world. The situation is exacerbated by widespread floods in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of southern Africa, which strain already fragile healthcare systems, limit access to safe water and sanitation, and force people to leave their homes.

Dr. Jean Kaseya, the Director General of Africa CDC, emphasized that cholera in Africa is directly linked to climate change. Over the past year, cholera outbreaks have affected more than a dozen countries in the region, resulting in hundreds of deaths. The impact of these outbreaks has been felt from rural areas in Zambia to the outskirts of South Africa’s capital, the most developed nation on the continent.

It is worth noting that Africa bears the brunt of adverse weather conditions caused by global warming, despite being the region least responsible for climate change. While cholera can be successfully treated through the prompt administration of oral rehydration solution, communities with low pre-existing immunity due to low vaccination rates and poor overall health face greater challenges.

Furthermore, the current shortage of cholera vaccines hampers efforts to control the outbreaks. While there are 15 to 18 million doses available globally, Africa requires up to 80 million doses, according to Kaseya. The lack of vaccines and essential medicines exacerbates the situation, making it more difficult to contain the bacterial disease.

For instance, Zambia has procured 1.7 million doses of the vaccine but needs 3.2 million. Zimbabwe is in need of 3.2 million doses but has only secured 800,000, while the Democratic Republic of Congo requires 5 million doses but has none at the moment. To address this issue, Gavi, an international vaccine alliance, is working to secure more doses, according to Kaseya.

The article highlights the urgent need to address the relationship between climate change and cholera outbreaks in Africa. It underscores the importance of improving healthcare systems, access to safe water and sanitation, and vaccination rates to mitigate the impact of climate change on public health in the region.

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