cholera : Interview with Ibrahim Mayaki

President of the GAAC and CEO of the African Union’s development agency, NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development)

Advocating a global strategy to combat cholera

The Global Alliance Against Cholera (GAAC) is an international advisory platform. It was created in 2010, in the light of the epidemic that struck Haiti after the earthquake on January 12. The fear of a planetary resurgence of one of the worst scourges of the 19th century gradually led the WHO to reactivate its Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), which regularly calls on the skills of GAAC’s experts. Ibrahim Mayaki, President of the Alliance, explains its strategy.

Why was an international alliance to combat cholera created?

Ibrahim Mayaki

There wasn’t a platform bringing together the public and private sectors, the academic world and foundations that devote themselves to the question of cholera. The originality of the GAAC is to create a multi-player alliance composed of figures renowned for the quality of their work, offering the Alliance optimal visibility in the eyes of major international institutions. Without playing an operational role, the Alliance draws up methodologies to combat cholera.

Is there a divergence in approach between the WHO and GAAC regarding the strategy to be implemented to combat cholera?

I would describe our strategies more as complementary. Without playing an operational role, the Alliance draws up methodologies to combat cholera, while the WHO counts above all on vaccines to respond to crises. We have a different aim: we prioritize the development of sanitation infrastructure.

Is this why the Veolia foundation is a member of the Alliance’s executive board?

Exactly. The foundation draws its expertise from Veolia’s know-how, its business lines for managing the essential services of water, waste and energy. This helps us define methodologies that can be replicated in other countries such as Chad, Niger, etc.

Do you suggest methods or programs tested on the ground?

Absolutely. The work carried out on the ground for many years by the Veolia foundation and all of the epidemiologists in the Democratic Republic of Congo has allowed us to understand the factors that trigger the disease, starting with those linked to the quality of water and sanitation.

How do you work?

With this kind of multi-player platform, capable of proposing replicable methods, we have extremely effective advocacy to win over other actors such as the Rockefeller and Hilton foundations and thus promote a synergistic approach. We then work closely not only with the WHO but also governments – such as the Ministries of Public Health, Sanitation, etc. – or the Pan American Health Organization for South America.

How do the GAAC and the sanitation actions carried out on the ground help Africa’s development?

With all of these players, we not only respond to crises, but we also organize prevention and act to promote development. Our activities nurture the Pan-African development agency – NEPAD – and help it define education and learning programs. This provides invaluable support in developing centers of excellence in water management, in areas as varied as irrigation or urban infrastructure, across the 52 African countries where we are involved.

Do political stability and lasting solutions go hand in hand?

Obviously lasting solutions require political stability. However, the work on the ground undertaken in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past decade, with a host of local and international players, has been extremely positive. Progress is being made despite the difficulties. For example, the local water management services previously did not work with the health services. Bringing them together on the ground has made it possible to build partnerships and create solid ties. It’s essential to act in this way, with the right methodology, if we want to ultimately eradicate cholera.

Know more :
> Global Alliance Against Cholera And Other Water borne disease