A girl seriously affected with cholera Albert Gonzalez Farran/Getty Images

A Roadmap to End Cholera

The World Health Organization has unveiled a plan to reduce cholera deaths by 90%, and completely eliminate transmission in 20 of the most affected countries, by 2030. But success will depend on sustained commitments from international donors, technical partners, and governments in countries where the disease is endemic.

GENEVA – “Where is your toilet?” This is often the first question I ask when I visit the site of a cholera outbreak anywhere in the world. More often than not, the answer is: “We don’t have one. We go wherever we can.”

Cholera, an ancient disease, has become a disease of poverty. It does not discriminate geographically, but it preys mostly on vulnerable communities in areas with poor sanitation.

Carried by contaminated floodwaters to sources of drinking water, transported by unsuspecting travelers, or brought into homes on produce irrigated with untreated sewage, the Vibrio cholerae bacterium settles in the small intestine after it is ingested, causing severe diarrhea and dehydration.

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