Yemen: War in the time of cholera

29 May 2017
Yemen: War in the time of cholera

With almost 19 million reliant on aid, Yemen is the world's single largest humanitarian crisis.

Now it's in the grip of a cholera outbreak.

On 5 May, the Ministry of Health and Population in Sana'a declared a state of emergency. Less than two months later, over 200,000 people are suspected to be ill with cholera, while more than 1,300 people have lost their lives to the disease.

With the country's health care system decimated by two years of war, health care workers are struggling to cope. Today, only 45% of hospitals are operational, while medicines and medical supplies are in short supply.

"The disease should not be so ferocious. Preventing cholera is pretty simple in theory: wash your hands with clean water, drink clean water, and eat food that has been boiled or cooked.

But clean water in Yemen is a luxury. Municipal workers in Sanaa have not been paid in months. And so we have no electricity, rubbish piling high in the street, and a crippled water system."

Said Johannes Bruwer in an article on BBC website: The horrors of Yemen's spiralling cholera crisis.

Zahraa lies ill with cholera. Yemen is facing the world's worst cholera outbreak. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ralph El Hage

In response to this unprecedented epidemic, we have sent critical medical supplies from seven countries, including IV fluids, oral rehydration salts, antibiotics and chlorine tablets. Our health staff and engineers are supporting 17 cholera treatment facilities around the country.

Today, we are providing care to nearly one in five cholera cases in Yemen - the biggest single provider of case management and infection control in the country. But it's not enough - we need to do more.

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