Global cholera outbreaks deeply linked to climate change: WHO official

Global cholera outbreaks deeply linked to climate change: WHO official
Global cholera outbreaks deeply linked to climate change: WHO official

Africa-Press – Kenya. Cholera outbreaks worldwide are deeply linked to climate change, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Tuesday after a meeting of a key advisory group on immunization.

Dr. Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, spoke at a press conference of the organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, known as SAGE.

“I think we do have to acknowledge the cholera outbreaks that are ongoing are deeply linked to climate change in emergency situations, conflict situations, and we have raised the alarm on cholera,” said O’Brien.

“It’s not only about vaccines; certainly it’s not the first line of defense for cholera. Cholera is a disease around clean water and clean sanitation. And vaccines are a method to prevent disease when it’s around.”

O’Brien also said the world was currently gearing up for measles outbreaks.

“With outbreaks going on, climate change, populations on the move and humanitarian crises, the prevention of disease through immunization couldn’t be more important than it is now,” she said.

She said immunization programs have shown that resilience to diseases is at the heart of responding to new pathogens, “in particular pathogens like we’ve all just experienced, the COVID disease.”

She said the SAGE group had recently previewed new tuberculosis vaccines and several TB vaccines are in the pipeline to prevent adolescent and adult disease.

“TB is one of the most impactful diseases that takes the lives of people around the world. Over 1.3 million people died of tuberculosis in 2022, with over 10 million falling ill from tuberculosis.”

She also said the biggest impediment to access to vaccines is not disinformation, which was prevalent at the height of COVID, but the availability of such medicines in some areas.

“I think we saw in a very poignant way in the COVID pandemic that the availability of vaccines and access to vaccines alone is not sufficient. There really does need to be community demand, family demand and individual demand for the vaccines so that people go and get what is available to them.

“And over the past, as you well know, during the COVID pandemic, there was a really impressive scaling of the amount of misinformation and frankly just overwhelming amounts of information, which we refer to as an ‘infodemic,’” she added.

She said some of that information was incorrect, either unintentionally incorrect or intentionally, or misinformation.

“The primary reason people don’t get vaccinated, however, is not that.

“For many people, the hours of clinics that are open, the distances that have to be traveled, and potentially, the quality of the services are just insufficient for them to actually get the vaccines that are on offer.”

Source: WHO

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