The inverse relationship between national food security and annual cholera incidence: a 30-country analysis
Individual and household-level evidence suggests a relationship between food insecurity and cholera risk. The relationship between national food security and the size of cholera outbreaks is unknown.
We analysed the relationship between national food security and annual cholera incidence rate from 2012 to 2015 across 30 countries. We used components of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) as measures of food security. We included countries with available GFSI reporting cases of cholera during the study period, excluding high-income countries. We developed multivariable zero-inflated negative binomial models with annual cholera incidence rate as the outcome, GFSI components as the exposure of interest, fixed effects for country and year, and time-varying effects related to water, sanitation, and hygiene, oral cholera vaccine deployment, healthcare expenditure, conflict and extreme weather.
The 30 countries reported 550 106 total cases of cholera from 2012 to 2015, with a median annual incidence rate of 3.1 cases per 100 000 people (IQR 0.3-9.9). We found independent inverse relationships between cholera and Overall GFSI (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 0.57, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.78), GFSI-Availability (IRR 0.81, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.95) and GFSI-Affordability (IRR 0.76, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.92).
We identified a strong inverse relationship between national food security and annual incidence rate of cholera. In the context of prior evidence at the individual and household levels, this suggests that there is a linkage between food insecurity and cholera at the national level that should be further considered in assessing cholera risk in vulnerable regions and in designing cholera control interventions.