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Comprehensive Approach Needed To Combat Typhoid In Africa, Worldwide

Though the focus on typhoid fever traditionally has focused on Asia, where the disease is endemic, “[s]ince early November 2011, there has been a surge of typhoid fever outbreaks in central and southern Africa, affecting children and adults alike,” Christopher Nelson, director of the Coalition against Typhoid (CaT) at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Ciro de Quadros, executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, write in this Atlantic opinion piece. “Apart from the illness, severe complications, and death that accompanies these typhoid outbreaks, disruptions of local water supplies interrupt the daily activities of entire communities and cities. Despite this large burden, typhoid has remained on the back burner of the global public health agenda, allowing the cycle of endemic disease and episodic outbreaks to continue, particularly in Africa,” they write and discuss the activities of CaT, which advocates for people with the disease and supports research, prevention, control, and surveillance programs.

“Public health experts agree that a comprehensive approach is needed to effectively control typhoid,” Nelson and de Quadros write, noting such an approach includes access to safe water and basic sanitation, promotion of hygiene, administration of typhoid vaccination, improved surveillance, and proper treatment. “While recent improvements in typhoid surveillance are a step in the right direction, much more work is needed to increase general awareness and turn the tide against typhoid in Africa and in other parts of the world,” they state, concluding, “This falls on the international global health community, including CaT and national governments, to develop and implement integrated typhoid control strategies and protect these vulnerable communities from typhoid fever and other diseases of poverty” (4/4).