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Cholera Confronts Syria's Limited Water Supply

September 14, 2022 • 9:42 am CDT
by Susanne Jutzeler Schweiz
(Vax Before Travel)

The Syrian Ministry of Health recently declared a cholera outbreak following 15 confirmed cases, including one patient death. In addition, a total of 936 cases of severe acute watery diarrhea were reported between late August and September 10, 2022.

The UN News reported on September 13, 2022, that Imran Riza, UN Resident Coordinator, said in a statement that "swift and urgent action is needed to prevent further illness and death."

"UN agencies and non-governmental organizations partners are coordinating closely with health authorities to ensure a timely and effective response."

Mr. Riza added that the outbreak was an indicator of severe water shortages throughout Syria, an issue the UN has "been sounding alarm bells on" for some time.

Riza commented that while the Euphrates (river) levels were dropping with drought-like conditions and damaged national water infrastructure, "much of the already vulnerable population of Syria is reliant on unsafe water sources, which may lead to the spread of dangerous water-borne diseases, particularly among children."

"Water shortages force households to resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as changing hygiene practices or increasing household debt to afford water costs."

A closely coordinated water, sanitation, hygiene, and health response is underway, led by the Syrian health ministry with support from the World Health Organization and UN Children's Fund UNICEF, working with a vast network of partners on the ground to respond.

As of September 14, 2022, the U.S. CDC had not issued a travel advisory focusing on Syria's cholera outbreak.

However, various cholera vaccines are available, listed on this Vax-Before-Travel webpage.

Note: This UN article was manually translated and curated for international travelers.