In May, Yemen declared a state of emergency in its capital Sanaa after a cholera outbreak killed over 100 people. The cholera outbreak in the war-ravaged country is worsening and according to the World Health Organisation, 101,820 suspected cases of the disease were identified.
As of Wednesday, June 7, over 791 people have succumbed to death because of cholera. Yemeni children under 15 years are the worst hit, accounting for 46 percent of all the cholera cases that were detected. People above 60 years account for 33 percent of the mortalities.
Dr. Meritxell Relano, the United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Yemen, shared that the cholera outbreak made the situation for the country’s children dramatically worse than what it was. Relano noted that most cholera-affected children who succumbed to death were also acutely malnourished.
She stated life is an endless struggle for Yemeni children who are constantly battling malnutrition, cholera, and unending war. These are a constant “death knell” for the Yemeni children.
Cholera Outbreak In Yemen
The WHO and UNICEF are trying to bring the cholera outbreak in Yemen under control, especially in areas with the highest number of reported cases.
“These cholera ‘hot spots’ are the source of much of the country’s cholera transmission,” WHO’s office head in Yemen Dr. Nevio Zagaria noted.
Zagaria added that if the doctors and volunteers can “stamp out” the cholera from these “hot spots” then they will be successful in slowing down the disease from spreading to other parts of the country and save many lives.
Apart from trying to bring the “hot spots” under control, health officials and volunteers are also providing proper and early treatment to the sick. They are also conducting cholera prevention awareness activities throughout Yemen.
Difficulties In Containing The Cholera Outbreak
The major hurdle in the path of volunteers and health officials persevering to tackle the cholera outbreak in Yemen is the country’s war-damaged health system. After more than two years of continuous war and conflicts, almost all of the country’s health system are destroyed.
The fully-functional health centers in Yemen account for less than 50 percent of the total health units in the country. Moreover, the current rate at which medical supplies are entering Yemen is down to a third of what was entering before March 2015.
Roughly 14.5 million people do not have access to basic amenities such as sanitation and clean water, which has also contributed to the cholera outbreak. Moreover, sanitation and health workers have not received their wages for over eight months.
However, hope has come for Yemenis in the form of UNICEF and its volunteers. Nearly 3.5 million people across Yemen were given access to disinfecting water tanker filling stations, as well as provided with chlorinated drinking water. The volunteers also restored some of Yemen’s water treatment plants, apart from rehabilitating the country’s water supply systems.