WHO Reports: Yemen cholera cases soar past half-million

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On 12 May 2017 at the Sab'een Hospital in Sana'a, Yemen, a child with severe diarrhoea or cholera receives treatment. Over 69,559 suspected cases of diarrhea have been reported so far across Yemen with 578 deaths as at 1 June 2017. In the last 24 hours alone, the numbers of suspected cholera cases have gone up from 65,300 to over 69,559 across Yemen. An average of 1100 children suffering from acute watery diarrhea are reporting to health facilities every day for the past two weeks across the war-torn country. In the last four weeks, the disease has claimed at least 578 lives of which nearly 40 per cent are children. The collapse of the water and sanitation system, barely functional hospitals and cash stripped economy means that 27.7 million Yemenis are staring at an unforgiving humanitarian catastrophe. There is a shortage of doctors and nursing staff, many of whom haven’t been paid for months as well as a shortage of medicines and IV fluid. UNICEF has flown in three aircrafts carrying over 41 tons of lifesaving supplies including medicines, oral rehydration salts, diarrhea disease kits, intravenous fluids that will treat over 50,000 patients. Over one million people across the country have been reached by disinfecting water tanker filling stations, chlorinating drinking water, disinfecting groundwater wells, cleaning water storage reservoirs at public and private locations, providing household water treatments and distributing hygiene consumables kits.

Cholera is believed to have affected more than 500,000 people and killed nearly 2,000 since late April, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
A full 503,484 suspected cases and 1,975 deaths are attributable to the outbreak that erupted last than four months ago in the war-ravaged country, a WHO overview showed. The UN health agency said the speed at which the deadly waterborne disease was spreading had slowed significantly since early July, but warned that it was still affecting an estimated 5,000 people each day.
The collapse of Yemen’s infrastructure after more than two years of war between the Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels who control the capital Sanaa has allowed the country’s cholera epidemic to swell to the largest in the world.
WHO warned that the disease had spread rapidly due to deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, with millions of people cut off from clean water across the country.
“Yemen’s health workers are operating in impossible conditions,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
“Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water,” he said, also lamenting that many of the doctors and nurses needed to rein in the outbreak had not been paid for nearly a year. “They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives,” he said.
WHO said that it and its partners were “working around the clock” to support the national efforts to halt the outbreak, adding that more than 99 percent of people who contract cholera in Yemen can survive if they can access health services.
More than 15 million people in the country have no access to basic healthcare. Tedros called on all sides in Yemen’s conflict, which has killed more than 8,300 people since March 2015, to urgently seek a political solution.
“The people of Yemen cannot bear it much longer – they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country,” he said.

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