What are the current treatments available?
With modern medicine and health practices, Cholera is an easily treatable disease. The easiest treatment for those impacted by cholera is rehydration with 1-6 liters of clean water to replace the lost water. In more severe cases, IV may be administered to help rehydrate faster. In developed countries with access to clean water on a consistent basis, cholera infections are able to be treated quickly before any severe symptoms appear. Cholera cannot be treated with antibiotics as they have a strong antibiotic resistance, and the amount of antibiotics needed to treat would only increase the resistance. This furthers the difficulties of treating cholera infections in rural, impoverished communities. Without access to large amounts of clean water to combat the symptoms of cholera, infections can progress and lead to severe dehydration.
Currently, there are three oral vaccines against cholera that have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2017, a mass vaccination campaign worked to vaccinate 11 million people in 5 African countries against cholera. This campaign then also vaccinated 15 million people worldwide. These vaccine campaigns have significantly improved the quality of life in communities that are able to receive them. Although these vaccines significantly help communities in need, there is still much to be done. Without access to clean water, cholera outbreaks can still negatively impact communities, even those that have been vaccinated. In an interview with Dr. Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi vaccine alliance, he mentioned that working hard to supply impoverished communities with vaccines is only one step in slowing the spread of this preventable disease. The only true way to stop this is to improve water and sanitation practices. It is the only long-term sustainable solution to cholera outbreaks.
Endemic in Ethiopia and COVID-19’s impact:
Cholera has a long history in Ethiopia, beginning in 1634 with the first recorded outbreak of cholera. Since then, 11 more endemics have ravished Ethiopia and infected millions of people. In each of these outbreaks, rural and urban areas have suffered from infection. The Ethiopian government has requested for the World Health Organization (WHO) help in this matter, but the process has been slow. WHO has been able to help in bringing millions of vaccines to communities in need, but there is still much to be done. In 2019, the emergence of COVID-19 had a negative impact on the implementation of vaccine campaigns in these regions. As the world shut down, disease surveillance worsened, and the number of reported cases decreased by 65%. Although there are fewer cases of cholera reported in these countries, Ethiopia is still considered to have been at an endemic level as far as cholera cases. As COVID-19 becomes less of an issue worldwide, hopes to resume disease surveillance and vaccine campaigns continue. The Ethiopian government has set forth an initiative for national cholera elimination. They have developed a multi-sectorial plan to eliminate cholera, which began in 2021 and has hopes to continue through 2028. Below is a timeline of what the initiative hopes to accomplish over the next 6 years.
Water to Thrive’s impact:
Water-borne illnesses are some of the most preventable diseases on earth. Oftentimes, the symptoms associated with these diseases are easily treatable and lead back to one common fact- the need for clean water. Worldwide, 1 in 9 people do not have access to clean water and this makes 1 in 9 people more susceptible to water-borne illness. Without access to clean water, millions of people die from preventable diseases. Water To Thrive works to reduce this statistic and to improve the lives of so many people. Clean water not only lifts the burden of these diseases but also provides so many opportunities for the people in these communities. Providing clean water wells in these communities and teaching sustainable water practices allows these communities to have higher productivity and a significantly higher quality of life.
As this is my last blog, I want to take a final moment to share my gratitude for the opportunity I have had to not only work with Water to Thrive but also share my work. I am so appreciative of being able to write these blogs and educate others on the importance of clean water. My biggest hope is that these blogs have been able to raise further awareness about the need for clean water and how vital it truly is to our lives. I want to thank everyone at Water to Thrive who has allowed me to express my interests in this way, but also to everyone who has read these blogs. – Jesseca