About Cholera

A disease of inequity that strikes the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people

21,000to143,000 deaths

Cholera Today

BY 2030

Eliminating cholera in up to 20 countries

While cholera has been eliminated from the developed world since decades, it continues to disproportionately affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

Cholera is a marker of inequality, striking those who have already been made vulnerable by conflict, insecurity and poverty.

Its victims are adults and children living in rural areas, peri-urban slums and refugee camps where access to clean water and adequate sanitation is sorely lacking.


Reduction in cholera deaths

An acute intestinal infection that can kill within hours if left untreated

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

The short incubation period, from two hours to five days, explains the exponential rise  in cases during outbreaks, leaving a high number of deaths in their wake. While most people infected with V. cholerae only show mild symptoms, some of them develop severe dehydration that can lead to septic shock and death within hours.

Most cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution (ORS), but severe cases require intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Facts & Figures

  • 21,000 to 143,000 deaths
    worldwide each year
  • 1.3 to 4.0 million cases
    worldwide each year
  • Every 10 seconds
    a new case of cholera
  • 47 countries
    across the globe affected
  • 40-80 million people
    are living in cholera hotspots in Africa alone

Cholera is preventable with the tools we have today, putting the goal of ending it within reach

The real burden of cholera is underreported

Each year there are an estimated 1.3 to 4.0 million cholera cases. However, cholera remains a neglected and underreported disease. Many cases are not recorded due to limitations in surveillance systems and fears of potential impact on trade or tourism.

Today cholera affects 47 countries across the globe. Almost every developing country faces cholera outbreaks or the threat of cholera.

How to fight cholera

The Global Roadmap 2030 outlines multi-sectoral interventions to prevent cholera through the implementation of a set of measures such as long-term WASH, oral cholera vaccines and stepping up disease surveillance in areas most affected by cholera (hotspots), and contain outbreaks through early detection and rapid response to alerts.

A multi-sectoral approach

National governments in cholera-affected countries will take the lead with support from GTFCC partners. Multi-sectoral interventions to effectively control cholera are based on a package of measures that should be well coordinated:

Leadership and coordination

To build strong preparedness and response strategies

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

To ensure sustainable access to safe water and sanitation solutions for populations most at risk

Strengthening healthcare systems

To improve readiness in case of an outbreak

Surveillance and reporting

To confirm suspected cases and track progress

Oral cholera vaccine (OCV)

To prevent cholera and protect communities

Community engagement

To raise awareness and promote good hygiene practices

Cholera hotspots

Hotspots play a central role in the burden and the spread of the disease. By targeting these relatively small areas, we will not only reduce the burden of cholera, but also ensure that control interventions reach those who need them most.

Access to safe water: a human right

Access to safe water and sanitation is a basic human right, yet millions of people worldwide still drink water contaminated by feces, putting them at risk for waterborne diseases, including cholera.

The basic WASH package

  • Basic water supply: access to safe drinking water sources (either household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected dug well, protected spring, or rainwater collection) within a 30-minute round-trip plus household or other disinfection
  • Basic sanitation: access to improved sanitation facilities (connection to a public sewer, connection to a septic system, pour-flush latrine, simple pit latrine, ventilated improved pit latrine)
  • Basic hygiene: access to a hand-washing station with soap and water for every household
  • Community engagement to manage WASH resources and to promote good hygiene

WASH programs are critical for people at risk for cholera worldwide

  • 844 million people lack access to basic drinking water
  • Over 2 billion drink water from sources contaminated with feces
  • 2.4 billion are without basic sanitation facilities

Oral cholera vaccine (OCV)

OCV is a game-changer in the fight against cholera. It takes effect immediately and works to prevent cholera for 2-3 years, effectively bridging emergency response and longer-term cholera control with a WASH focus.

In 2013, the WHO established an OCV stockpile. To date, over 54 million doses of OCV have been delivered in 25 countries.

How big is the OCV stockpile?

The number of vaccine doses per year has increased from 2 million in 2013 (when the stockpile was created) to 7 million in 2016 and over 25 million anticipated from 2019 onwards.