Health ministers from the Southern African regional bloc, Southern African Development Community (SADC), have dismissed a proposal to categorise the cholera outbreak as a public health emergency in the region.
During the extraordinary session of the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sylvia Masebo, the CDC board chairperson and Zambia’s health minister, emphasised the need for individual countries to autonomously decide on declaring the cholera outbreak a health emergency.
Addressing the session, Ms. Masebo urged SADC member states to implement proactive interventions to control the current outbreak, which has impacted approximately 15 member states.
Zambia, in particular, is grappling with the most severe cholera outbreak in decades, witnessing nearly 600 fatalities and over 16,000 reported cases since October last year. The country has faced cholera outbreaks on at least 30 occasions since 1977, with WaterAid stating that this is the most severe since 2017.
The current cholera outbreak has also affected Zimbabwe and Malawi.
To assess the readiness and responses to the cholera outbreaks in the region, SADC leaders are scheduled to convene a virtual extraordinary summit on Friday.