The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the recent cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as one of the largest globally, causing widespread concern among health authorities.
More than 41,000 cases of cholera have been reported, resulting in 314 deaths. with the number of cases increasing rapidly, as urgent measures are being taken to contain the outbreak and prevent its further spread, the (WHO) said Friday.
The disease, which is caused by contaminated water and food, results in severe dehydration and can be fatal if left untreated.
As the complex health crisis in the DRC has worsened since the beginning of 2023, cholera cases flared up once again in the country, with cases concentrated in the conflict-affected east after a few years of declining cases, said the WHO in a statement.
After an initial peak in April 2023, about 1,000 cases have been reported each week, the WHO said, noting that larger and longer-lasting outbreaks mean additional challenges for health workers, who are already overstretched, responding to a number of diseases in extremely challenging circumstances.
In October 2023, the DRC government initiated a plan to eliminate cholera from the country by 2030.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera. It remains a global threat to public health and serves as an indicator of inequity and social development gaps.
According to the WHO, researchers have estimated that every year, there are 1.3 to 4 million cases of cholera and 21,000 to 143,000 cholera-related deaths worldwide.
In response to the outbreak, neighbouring countries have implemented enhanced surveillance measures along their borders with the DRC to prevent the spread of cholera. Furthermore, international aid organisations and humanitarian partners are working closely with local authorities to provide resources and technical assistance to combat the outbreak effectively.