Against the backdrop of an ongoing civil war and severe drought conditions, the Syrian Ministry of Health has declared an outbreak of cholera on September 10, 2022. Urgent action is needed to stop the outbreak, which presents a serious public health threat to people throughout Syria as well as the surrounding region.
On September 10, 2022, the Syrian Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of cholera in Aleppo (1) . According to the WHO’s Weekly Epidemiological Record, the country has not reported cholera cases since 1979 (2,3) .
Between August 25 and September 10, a total of 936 severe acute watery diarrhea cases were reported in Syria, including at least eight deaths. Approximately 72% of cases were reported from Aleppo (where at least 20 cholera cases were confirmed), although cases were also reported in Deir-ez-Zor, Ar-Raqqa, Al Hasakeh, Hama and Lattakia (1) .
The cholera outbreak occurs against a backdrop of the ongoing Syrian Civil War that began in 2011 (4) (which has led to destruction of the national water infrastructure (5) ) as well as drought conditions that have caused severe water shortages throughout the country (6) . With the decreasing water levels in the Euphrates River, many people in Syria have been forced to rely on unsafe water sources. Indeed, a rapid assessment has suggested that the source of infection may be linked to the consumption of unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops (1) .
Urgent action is needed to stop the outbreak, which presents a serious public health threat to people throughout Syria as well as the surrounding region.
1. OCHA. United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Imran Riza, statement on the outbreak of cholera in Syria [Internet]. 2022 Sep. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/united-nations-resident-and-humanitarian-coordinator-syria-imran-riza-statement-outbreak-cholera-syria-12-september-2022-enar
2. WHO. Global Health Observatory data repository: Number of reported cholera cases (data by country) [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.175?lang=en
3. WHO. Weekly epidemiological record [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/journals/weekly-epidemiological-record
4. BBC. Why has the Syrian war lasted 11 years? [Internet]. 2022 Mar. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35806229
5. OCHA. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Martin Griffiths - Briefing to the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria. 2022 Sep.
6. OCHA. Syria: Drought - 2021-2022 (DR-2021-000125-SYR) [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/disaster/dr-2021-000125-syr