In Yemen, almost one death per hour as cholera epidemic spreads like wildfire. Number of suspected cases reaches 100,000 as Yemeni health system teeters on brink of collapse.
A cholera epidemic is spreading like wildfire across war-ravaged Yemen, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, with a total of 100,000 suspected cases identified around the country.
A total of 798 deaths have now been attributed to the disease, which is affecting people in 19 of Yemen’s 22 provinces – equivalent to almost one death every hour since 27 April, Oxfam said, adding to the suffering of Yemen’s 27-million strong population.
What is cholera?
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that is transmitted through contaminated drinking water. It can be fatal within hours if left untreated.
Most sufferers exhibit mild symptoms that can be treated with oral rehydration solution, but the disease can kill within hours in severe cases if not treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
Children under the age of 15 account for 46 per cent of cases, WHO said.
“The cholera outbreak is making a bad situation for children drastically worse. Many of the children who have died from the disease were also acutely malnourished,” Dr Meritxell Relano, Unicef’s representative in Yemen, said in a statement.
“Today, life for children in Yemen is a desperate struggle for survival, with cholera, malnutrition and the relentless violence constantly sounding a death knell at their doorsteps,” she added.
This is the second outbreak of cholera in less than a year in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country in the grip of a war.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in more than two years of war, which has also destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.
Only a few medical facilities are still functioning and two-thirds of the population are without access to safe drinking water, the UN has said.
About 17 million of Yemen’s 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in “grave peril”, according to the UN.