SADC Council of Ministers meets over cholera outbreak

WINDHOEK: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) held an extraordinary meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers on Monday to discuss the cholera outbreak being experienced in several member states.

Speaking during the virtual meeting, Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Téte António, said the meeting sought to take collective and coordinated action to prevent and control cholera in the region.

‘In our meeting today we seek to take collective, comprehensive, and coordinated action to prevent and control cholera, guided by the evidence-based advice of our health experts who have comprehensively discussed appropriate measures to prevent and contain the disease,’ said António, the Angolan Minister of External Relations.

A cholera outbreak has been reported in several SADC countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, since October 2023.

‘Countries that have been affected by this disease have had to redirect both the financial an
d human resources needed for development towards healthcare, thereby leaving limited resources available for other crucial development sectors,’ Minister António said.

On his part, SADC Executive Secretary Elias Magosi noted that last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the global resurgence of cholera as a Grade 3 emergency.

This, he said, denoted the highest internal level of a health emergency requiring a comprehensive response at national, regional, and global levels.

‘Currently, five SADC Member States have ongoing cholera outbreaks, reporting up to 73 per cent of cholera cases on the African continent. As a region, this trend is deeply concerning,’ said Magosi.

He added that since the onset of the rainy season at the end of last year, several member states have experienced outbreaks of cholera, leading to a significant number of deaths and putting a heavy strain on the provision of already overstretched health care services in member states.

He thanked the cooperating partners, inc
luding the Africa Centres for Disease Control, WHO, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme, for their commitment to continue supporting SADC efforts towards cholera elimination in the region.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency