GAAC Advisory Council Members Meet!

​January 17th marked the fifth meeting of the Advisory Council of the Global Alliance Against Cholera, an activity sponsored by the Veolia Foundation. Welcomed by Thierry Vandevelde, on behalf of Chairman, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, 12 participants including 5 Council members and seven guests met at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. to exchange information on their recent cholera abatement activities.

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Rita Colwell, GAAC Council, began the discussion with an overview of her 40 year, cholera focused, fieldwork, laboratory supervision and University teaching in Bangladesh, India and in many African and other Asian Countries. Currently directing the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland, and participating on the Boards of Directors of many WASH related NGOs, it was her pointed comment that enough was known about how to prevent cholera based on the past 150 year experience of providing potable water and sanitation services to "at risk populations", to allow us to restate our objective of being "Against" to one of "Ending" cholera, and other contagious waterborne diseases. This she confirmed as the 100% solution as opposed to a lower effectiveness of oral cholera vaccine.
Thibaut Constant, Veolia Foundation Hydrologist described the rapid deployment by the Veolia Foundation of six large, portable microfiltration units to Haiti in response to the ongoing cholera epidemic in different "hot spot" areas in the Country.
Dennis Warner, GAAC Council, also focused his comments on Haiti and called for greater coordination of cholera remediation efforts between the Haitian government, international funding agencies, and NGOs.
Daniele Lantagne of Tufts University spoke of her current research activities focused on "point of use" disinfection of water in endemic cholera areas that is used for drinking and food preparation.
Lisa Schechtman, of WaterAid, U.S. described the significant advocacy support for WASH activities that her international NGO is maintaining, especially in view of the possibility of cutbacks in official A.I.D. funding agencies .
Eric Mintz, GAAC Council, cholera expert with CDC in Atlanta, Georgia reviewed current CDC cholera abatement programs in sub-Saharan Africa, and a specific opportunity for the Veolia Foundation to improve potable water availability in hospitals and clinic facilities in Douala, Cameroon.
Antar Jutla, GAAC Council, based at West Virginia University reported on his recently published article focused on "cholera prediction modeling" using climate change characteristics as its base. The article is co-authored by Rita Colwell.
Aurelie Jeandron of the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provided an update on her research in Uvira, D.R.C., focused on the increased incidence of cholera in the City that is precipitated by interruptions in the distribution of potable water resulting from power failures in the distribution system.
Christine Rodwell, V.P. for Business Development and Innovation in the Veolia Corporation proposed the possible interest of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient City program in benefiting from the cholera elimination activities of GAAC Advisory Council members. This possibility is under active consideration by both the Veolia and Rockefeller Foundations at this time.
John Oldfield, of Water 2017, and Advocacy Advisor to the G.A.A.C. Council acknowledged the current political uncertainties in the funding of A.I.D. program budgets and emphasized the urgent need for continued Advocacy efforts to be focused on the principal international and domestic funding agencies as well as Government officials in cholera plagued Countries to accelerate cholera mitigation activities.
Dane Erickson, Managing Director of the Eastern Congo Initiative expressed interest in the Uvira project and agreed to consider a funding request from the Veolia Foundation to participate in a $10 million rehabilitation activity to be initiated in that City in March 2017.
Thierry Vandevelde, Member, CEO of the Veolia Foundation commented on the quality of all of the "Round Table" presentations and spoke of the positive influence they will have on future policy and program directions for the GAAC activity that are under consideration at this time.