Health News

World news in brief: Unprecedented rise in cholera in Africa, update on Julian Assange’s extradition and locusts worsening crisis in Sudan


Dr Fiona Braka, from the WHO regional office in Brazzaville, Congo, said eastern and southern Africa have been particularly affected.

In the first four weeks of the year alone, 10 African countries reported more than 26,000 cases and 700 deaths, almost double the number reported last year over the same period.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have been hardest hit, but Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria are also in the grip of “active outbreaks”, with a high risk of spread, it said. Dr. Braka.

Preventable and treatable

“We will continue to see records being broken as long as people do not have access to clean water and sanitation,” she said. “Cholera is preventable and treatable. No one should die from it anymore.

Increased flooding associated with climate change has contributed to the spread of cholera, a preventable waterborne disease. The increase in cyclones and droughts has also reduced access to drinking water, creating an ideal environment for the development of cholera.

Despite a global shortage of oral cholera vaccines, WHO is supporting vaccination campaigns in Zambia, where more than 1.7 million people have been vaccinated. A campaign is also underway in Zimbabwe, which is expected to provide protection to 2.3 million people.

WHO has also deployed more than 100 medical experts and sent emergency supplies to affected areas in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

More than 30 tons of emergency supplies have already been delivered to the two countries, including anti-cholera kits and rehydration salts, and additional assistance is on the way.

UN torture expert urges UK to halt extradition of Julian Assange to US

The independent expert on torture appointed by the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday urged the United Kingdom to suspend the possible extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.

Alice Edwards called on British authorities to consider Mr Assange’s appeal based on real fears that, if extradited, he would risk treatment amounting to torture or other forms of ill-treatment or punishments.

“Julian Assange suffers from a recurrent and long-standing depressive disorder. He is considered at risk of suicide,” the special rapporteur said in a statement.

He faces numerous charges in the United States, including under the Espionage Act of 1917, for the alleged illegal disclosure of diplomatic and other cables and documents through the investigative site he co- founded, WikiLeaks.

Lives in prison

“If he is extradited, he could be placed in prolonged solitary confinement while awaiting trial or as a detainee. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison,” Ms Edwards said.

The independent expert questioned whether his extradition was compatible with the UK’s international human rights obligations, given the risks to his mental health linked to solitary confinement or the likelihood of conviction ” disproportionate”.

“The diplomatic assurances of humane treatment provided by the United States government do not constitute a sufficient guarantee to protect Mr. Assange against such risk,” she added, calling on the United Kingdom to carefully review the extradition order.

A final national appeal after a long legal battle over Mr Assange’s extradition is expected to take place at the High Court in London on February 20-21.

Rapporteurs and other rights experts are independent of any government or organization, receive no salary and serve in their personal capacity.

Sudan: Food shortage to worsen as locust threat increases

UN humanitarians warn that food will become even more scarce in the coming months as Sudan enters the lean season, the UN spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday.

“It is estimated that 18 million people suffer from food insecurity, 10 million more than last year,” said Stéphane Dujarric.

This comes as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned earlier in Geneva that the damage caused by desert locusts in the country has worsened significantly since the middle of last year .

Existential threat to seed supplies

FAO Deputy Representative in Sudan, Adam Yao, has warned that the pest problem has reached a “threatening level” and that without sustained efforts to control the invasion, significant agricultural losses are inevitable.

Locusts are swarming in the Nugal region of Somalia.

Locusts are swarming in the Nugal region of Somalia.

This is partly due to the lack of surveillance and control operations in central and western Sudan, a consequence of the ongoing war between government forces and rival RSF militia, which has plunged the country into crisis.

Nevertheless, locust control agents supported by FAO managed to survey more than 113,500 hectares and control around 23,000 hectares of already infested land.

Mr Yao said FAO was working in collaboration with the UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, to secure immediate access to Wad Madani to ensure that the threatened seed collections could be moved to a safer location.

Humanitarian agencies have managed to provide lifesaving aid to seven million people in Sudan since last April.


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