Sanofi Pasteur, a vaccination company based in France has launched a programme christened ‘Initiative against Diarrheal and Enteric Diseases in Africa (IDEA) aimed at fighting cholera in sub-Saharan countries.
IDEA is an independent and multidisciplinary group committed to sharing information, analysing relevant issues, raising disease awareness and suggesting measures to support the formulation of policies required to improve disease control in Africa.
Dr Luc Hessel, General Secretary of the Initiative noted that the African Enteric Diseases Expert Bereau is a group of 11 scientific and medical experts from seven French-speaking African countries which met in Dakar in November 2011 to discuss ways of fighting against cholera and enteric diseases.
He said the French countries included Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’lvoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali and Senegal while some of the English African countries comprised Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
He said diarrheal diseases represented the third most common cause of death by infectious diseases worldwide.
The World Health Organisation estimates that three to five million cholera cases occurred every year leading to 100,000 to 120,000 deaths.
Dr Hessel said despite national and international efforts, most cholera cases occurred in the Third World countries particularly in Africa with a very high mortality rate.
He said his outfit would meet the leadership of Ghana to be included in the English speaking African countries.
Dr Portia Manangazira, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control at the Ministry of Health in Mozambique said since January 2009, 12,819 cases of cholera including 119 deaths were reported out of nine provinces and Maputo city.
She said the two most affected provinces are Cabo Delgado with 2,345 cases of cholera including 35 deaths and Nampula with 2,137 cases including seven deaths.
Dr Manangazira said her outfit had put in place action plan to help address some of the problems associated with cholera, adding that there was the need for African countries to provide safe water and good sanitation in reducing the transmission and impact of cholera.
Dr Laurrent Assogba, Technical Adviser in Health Policy at the Ministry of Health for Benin said in October 2011, Benin reported 350 cases of cholera including two deaths.
He said 95 per cent of the cases were reported from the Atlantique Department and 15 cases from the Department of Zou.
Dr Assogba said Benin had strategised measures in fighting the incidence of cholera, thus providing adequate and timely information to policy-makers to foster rational approach to prevention as well as early detection to the outbreak of cholera.