Cholera cases could hit 850,000 in Ye­men

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

GENEVA:

The cholera epi­demic tear­ing through Ye­men, ex­ac­er­bat­ing the al­ready dire hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion in the war-rav­aged coun­try, could im­pact 850,000 peo­ple by the end of the year, the Red Cross warned yes­ter­day. The out­break “has reached colos­sal pro­por­tions,” said Robert Mar­dini, the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross’s Near and Mid­dle East di­rec­tor. The col­lapse of Ye­men’s in­fra­struc­ture af­ter more than two years of war be­tween the Saudi-backed govern­ment and Shi­ite rebels who con­trol the cap­i­tal Sanaa has al­lowed the coun­try’s cholera epi­demic to swell to the largest in the world.

The speed at which cholera is spread­ing in Ye­men has slowed some in re­cent months, but the deadly wa­ter­borne dis­ease is far from con­tained. “In July we said we feared it would reach 600,000 cases by the end of the year. Now we have reached 647,000 sus­pected cases al­ready,” Mar­dini said. “We are now pro­ject­ing in the worst-case sce­nario to reach 850,000 by the end of the year,” he said, stress­ing that “it is not un­der con­trol. It is not con­tained.”

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion said ear­lier this week that 2,065 peo­ple had so far per­ished from the dis­ease. “The pace was slow­ing down a bit, but over the past week it went up again,” Mar­dini said, point­ing out that there are still around 4,700 sus­pected cases be­ing reg­is­tered in the coun­try ev­ery day. The num­bers are all the more tragic in light of the fact that cholera is usu­ally an eas­ily pre­ventable dis­ease. “It is the worst health cri­sis for a pre­ventable dis­ease in mod­ern times,” Mar­dini told a con­fer­ence on the side­lines of the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.

WHO has warned that the dis­ease has spread rapidly due to de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion con­di­tions, with mil­lions of peo­ple cut off from clean wa­ter across the coun­try. Less than half of health fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try are func­tion­ing, many health work­ers have not re­ceived salaries for nearly a year, and less than 30 per­cent of the medicines needed in Ye­men are reach­ing the coun­try, Mar­dini said. More than 8,400 peo­ple, in­clud­ing civil­ians and com­bat­ants, are be­lieved to have died in Ye­men’s civil war, ac­cord­ing to UN es­ti­mates. — AFP

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