Prevention and control of cholera outbreaks: WHO policy and recommendations


Measures for the prevention of cholera mostly consist of providing clean water and proper sanitation to populations who do not yet have access to basic services. Health education and good food hygiene are equally important. Communities should be reminded of basic hygienic behaviours, including the necessity of systematic hand-washing with soap after defecation and before handling food or eating, as well as safe preparation and conservation of food. Appropriate media, such as radio, television or newspapers should be involved in disseminating health education messages. Community and religious leaders should also be associated to social mobilization campaigns.

In addition, strengthening surveillance and early warning greatly helps in detecting the first cases and put in place control measures. Conversely, routine treatment of a community with antibiotics, or mass chemoprophylaxis, has no effect on the spread of cholera, can have adverse effects by increasing antimicrobial resistance and provides a false sense of security.

Key messages

  • Provision of safe water, proper sanitation, and food safety are critical for preventing occurrence of cholera.
  • Health education aims at communities adopting preventive behaviour for averting contamination.