A Yemeni child suspected of being infected with cholera AFP/Getty Images

A Bangladeshi Prescription for Cholera

Despite having the expertise to keep cholera in check, the world is losing the battle to contain the disease, especially in regions where conflict persists. Countries like Bangladesh, which have vast experience confronting cholera and other waterborne illnesses, can play a leading role.

DHAKA – By now, cholera should be history. For decades, health officials have understood how to prevent the disease, doctors have known how to treat it, and development experts have recognized that with clean water and sanitation, outbreaks rarely become epidemics. Unfortunately, the world is not so simple and neat, and the nightmare of cholera persists.

In many parts of the world, cholera has in fact been tamed. Waterborne illnesses are virtually nonexistent in advanced economies. And even in resource-starved countries and regions where cholera remains a problem, the availability of oral rehydration therapy, or ORT, has helped prevent countless deaths.

And yet cholera continues to flare up during times of crisis, killing the most vulnerable among us. One of the worst epidemics today is ravaging Yemen, where armed conflict has led to the collapse of health, water, and sanitation systems – precisely the conditions under which cholera thrives. The first cholera cases were reported in October 2016; within a year, the number of cases had soared to more than 600,000.

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