Training on cholera preparedness underway in Accra
A training workshop to build the capacity of African countries on cholera preparedness is underway in Accra.
Dubbed: “WHO Africa Regional Cholera capacity building workshop”, it will bring new understanding on how stakeholders beyond the health sector can support the control and elimination of cholera.
It also forms part of efforts to fulfil the commitment of the Global Task Force for Cholera Control (GTFCC) to reduce cholera deaths by 90 per cent and subsequently eliminate the disease by 2030.
Participants will also be trained on issues related to hygiene, water and sanitation, cholera prevention, surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control and outbreak management.
The five-day workshop, which is the last in a series of training for countries in the WHO Africa Region, is being organised in collaboration with the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), the Ministry of Health and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
The WHO Representative in Ghana, Dr Francis Chisaka Kasolo, who addressed participants at the commencement of the training in Accra yesterday, said an estimated four million people contracted the cholera disease globally, with 143,000 deaths reported, annually.
He said the African Region accounted for the highest burden of cholera, with West Africa contributing to the bulk of the cases over the past few years.
“An outbreak that began in Nigeria in December 2020 led to over 129,806 cases, including 4,005 deaths, in 12 African countries by the end of 2021,” he said.
The countries were Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda, he added.
He said one of the actions taken by WHO was to form the GTFCC to work across multiple sectors towards cholera control and elimination.
Dr Kasolo, however, said despite efforts by the GTFCC, recent assessments done at the end of 2021 indicated that preparedness and readiness to detect and respond to cholera outbreaks were still limited in most countries.
According to the WHO Representative, assessment by his outfit had revealed that cholera was not given the needed priority as a disease earmarked for elimination, even in hotspot regions and districts in Ghana.
He said although rapid response teams had been established, they lacked cholera-related logistics for swift responses within 24 hours, adding that such challenges abound in other African countries.
Dr Kasolo attributed the high number of cholera deaths to the fact that people delayed in reporting to health facilities for treatment, and when they eventually did, “within a few hours they die”.
He, therefore, stressed the need to prepare community members, health facilities and workers on cholera and how to manage the disease to reduce the death rate.
“We must also ensure that there are adequate supplies, particularly in rural settings, so they can be easily administered without delay, while we must set up emergency funds to ensure swift response,” he added.
The Secretary-General of the Ghana Red Cross, Solomon Gayoni Gbolo, expressed the society’s commitment to continue to partner the government and other development partners to reduce the disease burden on communities.
He said it had so far trained some 200 national disaster response teams across the country as frontrunners to activate community systems when there was a cholera outbreak.