Yemen: Cholera Outbreak

Yemen: Cholera Outbreak

Every day 5,000 new suspected cases of cholera are registered in Yemen, the world's largest outbreak of the disease, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO reported 368,207 suspected cases and 1,828 deaths in the Arabian Peninsula country since late April.



Cholera, which is spread by ingestion of food or water contaminated by the Vibrio cholera bacterium, can kill within hours if untreated. The deaths figures indicate that 99.5 percent of patients now survive in Yemen, where a devastating civil war and economic collapse has left millions on the brink of starvation.

The war between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed rebels in one of the world's most impoverished countries has killed more than 8,000 people and wounded a further 44,500 since Riyadh and its allies joined the conflict in 2015. A string of vital ports along Yemen's Red Sea coast are blockaded, leaving millions of people with limited access to food and medicine. Less than half of the country's medical facilities are currently functional.

Rupert Colville, UN human rights spokesman, said on 21st, July that the fighting between the government forces - backed by Saudi Arabia-led coalition - and the Houthi rebels were "hugely exacerbating the ability to stop this epidemic of cholera".

"The kind of disintegration of the health system in Yemen as a result of the conflict at a time of cholera is an absolutely lethal combination," said Colville.

The cholera outbreak has prompted the U.N. to revise its humanitarian assessment and it now calculates 20.7 million Yemenis are in need of assistance, up from the previous figure of 18.8 million.

Cholera is also spreading in Somalia, Kenya, Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania and South Sudan, where the WHO is about to start a vaccination campaign with 500,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine.