First Published: 2017-05-19

Nearly 23,500 Yemen cholera cases in three weeks
World Health Organization says 242 people have died in past three weeks in Yemen from the highly contagious bacterial infection
Middle East Online

Reining in the disease is particularly complicated as Yemen's war rages

ADEN - A cholera outbreak in war-ravaged Yemen has killed 242 people, and left nearly 23,500 others sick in the past three weeks alone, the World Health Organization said Friday.

The UN health agency said that in the past day alone, 20 cholera deaths and 3,460 suspected cases had been registered in the country, where two-thirds of the population are on the brink of famine.

"The speed of the resurgence of this cholera epidemic is unprecedented," WHO country representative for Yemen Nevio Zagaria told reporters in Geneva by phone from Yemen, warning that a quarter of a million people could become sick by the end of the year.

Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water.

Reining in the disease is particularly complicated in Yemen, where two years of devastating war between the Huthis and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab military coalition has left more than half the country's medical facilities out of service.

Zagaria pointed out that humanitarian workers cannot access some parts of the country, and that the number of suspected cholera cases could be far higher than those registered.

Yemen's conflict has killed more than 8,000 people and wounded around 40,000 since March 2015, according to the WHO.

Zagaria pointed out that many of the remaining health workers in the country had not been paid for seven months.

At the same time, he said, lacking electricity meant water pumping stations were only functioning in an intermittent way, and the sewer systems were damaged.

"The population is using water sources that are contaminated," he said.

Zagaria said the United Nations agencies were preparing to "release an emergency response cholera plan in the next 48 hours," aimed at dramatically scaling up the number of treatment centres and rehydration centres.

At the same time, he said there was a dire need for funding to help Yemen authorities to make the necessary infrastructure repairs.

"The spread of the disease is too big and they need substantial support, in terms of repairing the sewer system, ... treating and chlorinating the water sources."

Without dramatic efforts to halt the spread of the disease, "the price that we will pay in terms of life will be extremely high," he warned.

 

At least 235 killed in Egypt mosque attack

Saudi Crown Prince calls Iran supreme leader 'new Hitler'

Syrian opposition agrees to send united delegation to Geneva talks

Saudi-led coalition clears passenger flights to Sanaa

Baghdad's Shabandar cafe marks century since opening

Turkey says Trump pledged to stop arming Kurds

Turkey president sues main opposition party leader

Lebanon's Hariri brings status quo back with him

Activists say 'everybody knew' about Libya slave trade

Erdogan says no contact 'at the moment' with Assad

Lebanon's Jumblatt criticises Saudi Arabia, Iran

China says it will make efforts on Syria reconstruction

Turkey to detain 79 former teachers in post-coup probe

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home