Yemen’s Horrendous Cholera Outbreak to Get Worse over Rainy Season, UN Alarms
Yemen is facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak, and it is only going to get worse with the advent of the rainy season, the World Health Organization, the UN health agency, alarms.
The all-out humanitarian crisis in Yemen caused by the ongoing Yemeni Civil War has been deteriorating rapidly as a result of the a full-blown epidemic of cholera.
Cholera is a bacterial infection contracted through ingesting contaminated food or water, which in severe cases can be fatal within hours if not treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
In the past two years, Yemen, which was already the poorest country in the Middle East, has been engulfed in a civil war with international involvement, with a coalition led by Saudi Arabia supporting the Yemeni government, which fights the antigovernment Shiite Houthi rebels backed by Iran.
At least 10,000 people – mostly civilians – have been killed, and 44,000 others have been injured in the Yemeni Civil War since March 2015, UN figures show.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at present Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with an alarming 18.8 million people out of Yemen’s total population of 26 million in need of humanitarian and protection help, including 10.3 million who require immediate assistance to survive.
Earlier this year, the UN warned that Yemen, together with parts of Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, is facing a devastating famine crisis, resulting from ongoing armed conflicts.
The World Health Organization, the health agency of the United Nations, warned on Friday that Yemen’s already large-scale cholera outbreak is set to be exacerbated by the rainy season.
Its latest data indicates that 5,000 Yemenis fall sick every day, up from 1,000 new cases per day in May 2017. The majority of the newly infected are among children and the elderly.
“The cholera outbreak is far from being over,” Fadela Chaib, spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), told reporters in Geneva.
“The rainy season had just started and would exacerbate the situation in terms of transmission,” she added.
WHO’s office in Yemen said that since April 27, 2017, over 372,900 suspected cholera cases and 1,837 associated deaths have been reported in over 91% of Yemen’s governorates.
UN agencies, including WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are scaling up access to clean water and sanitation, and setting up treatment centres for oral rehydration therapy and other measures.
The response is also focused on providing food as the country remains on the verge of famine. Seventeen million people are currently hungry in the war-torn country, making then more vulnerable to catching the bacteria.
“It is necessary to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition and diarrhoea,” Chaib said.
Children aged 15 and under accounted for 41% of all suspected cases, and people aged over 60 for 33% of all deaths.
Asked if the number of cases could rise about 600,000, as projected by the non-governmental organization Oxfam, Chaib called the current toll “heavy” and said the situation “remains alarming.”
It is reminded that in 2011, some 719,377 suspected cases of cholera were recorded in Haiti, and 8,767 people died, according to national figures cited by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Ivan Dikov, the founder of HeartlandHinterland.com, is the author of the book “6 Million Abortions: How Communism Utilized Mass-Scale Abortion Exterminating Europe’s Fastest Growing Nation“, among other books.