Notice: Use of undefined constant REQUEST_URI - assumed 'REQUEST_URI' in /home/areacom/public_html/wp-content/themes/daynight/functions.php on line 73
Cholera crisis threatening thousands of children in Yemen - Area 14/8

Cholera crisis threatening thousands of children in Yemen

Cholera crisis threatening thousands of children in YemenHealth experts in Yemen are battling to prevent a third wave of the world’s worst ever cholera outbreak as the number of cases of the disease climbs again.

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) there have been around 185,000 cases of the disease in the country since January, with the numbers rising over the last few months.

In the last week of August there were more than 9,000 cases of the disease, with that number rising to more than 11,000 the following week. Around a third of the cases are in children under the age of five.

The country is currently experiencing the worst ever recorded outbreak of the severe diarrhoeal disease, with more than 1.2 million cases and 2,500 deaths since April 2017. The outbreak began in October 2016, then declined before leading to a second wave in August 2017.

Cholera is an infectious disease transmitted through contaminated food or water. In more than three years of conflict Yemen has seen its already fragile infrastructure repeatedly under attack, with many parts of the country without access to clean water.

In a recent United Nations survey of more than 2,000 respondents across Yemen, more than half (56 per cent) cited water supply damage as the most common form of infrastructure damage.

Altaf Musani, WHO’s representative in Yemen, said there was a host of reasons why cholera continues to flourish in the country, including poor infrastructure, a lack of health facilities and population movement away from the frontlines.

Surveillance for the disease has also increased in recent weeks meaning more cases have been detected.

He said authorities were bracing themselves for high transmission of the disease.

“What you see in cholera outbreaks is a seasonal pattern. After the rains in the summer water stagnated and the ability to clean reservoirs became an issue. We are now coming into the high transmission season but because cholera is endemic there are sporadic cases throughout the year,” he said.

The WHO and UN children’s organisation Unicef have just completed a four-day cholera vaccination campaign in the worst affected districts, vaccinating around 280,000 people, or more than 50 per cent of those they were hoping to target.

The warring parties held a ceasefire – or a period of tranquility – to enable vaccinators to reach those deemed at high risk of contracting the disease.

Mr Musani said: “Cholera vaccination should never be seen in isolation as a single strategy. It’s a means of breaking transmission and should be part of a broader strategy which includes promotion of good hygiene practices and improving water and sanitation.”

Save the Children is warning of an impending humanitarian catastrophe as fighting intensifies in the district of Hodeidah. It has reported that the number of cases of cholera in the district has nearly tripled over three months – from 497 in June to 1242 in August.

There are nearly 100,000 severely malnourished children in the district and more than half a million people have been displaced since June.

Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen country director, said: “Treating cholera is straightforward providing children can get the rehydration and antibiotics they need, and hospitals and clinics are adequately equipped. But nearly four years of conflict has led to a near-total collapse of the health system in Yemen.”

He said the fighting must stop.

“In the meantime, Save the Children will continue to distribute medicines and support clinics to reach the most vulnerable children before it’s too late,” he added.

Telegraph