Death toll rises as coun­try crum­bles

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT -

n out­break of cholera in Ye­men has now claimed 32 lives as two-thirds of the coun­try strug­gles to se­cure fresh drink­ing wa­ter due to the con­flict.

United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) yes­ter­day said the death toll has risen rapidly since the first con­firmed case on Oc­to­ber 8. Of­fi­cials said there are a fur­ther 340 sus­pected cases.

Ra­jat Mad­hok, Chief of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Ad­vo­cacy at UNICEF Ye­men, said mal­nour­ished chil­dren are the most at risk.

He told 7DAYS: “You have chil­dren who al­ready have a weak im­mune sys­tem, who are suf­fer­ing from se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion and they con­tract some­thing like this, and it can lead to death. “Look at it in per­spec­tive of the crum­bling health sys­tem and the num­ber of peo­ple dis­placed and the dy­nam­ics of how peo­ple don’t have ac­cess to clean or safe wa­ter or health fa­cil­i­ties. “It is spread­ing but it needs to be con­tained ur­gently.” Cholera is a gas­troin­testi­nal disease, usu­ally spread by con­tam­i­nated wa­ter and food, that can cause se­vere di­ar­rhoea that can lead to fa­tal de­hy­dra­tion and kid­ney fail­ure within hours. The con­flict be­tween the ousted gov­ern­ment and the Houthi rebels has left two-thirds of Ye­me­nis with­out ac­cess to clean wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion ser­vices like sewage sys­tems, fur­ther in­creas­ing the risk of catch­ing cholera, ac­cord­ing to an Oc­to­ber re­port by the WHO.

As of this month, only 45 per cent of all health fa­cil­i­ties in Ye­men re­main func­tional due to short­ages in health staff, medicines and med­i­cal sup­plies, WHO of­fi­cials said.

Mad­hok added: “At least 7.6 mil­lion peo­ple are es­ti­mated to be liv­ing in af­fected ar­eas with a high-risk of con­tract­ing the disease, which shows you the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem.”

Re­ported cases have es­ca­lated in cen­tral ci­ties of Sana’a, Am­manat al Aasima and Al Baida, south­ern gov­er­norates of Aden and Lahj, and the north­ern city of Ha­j­jah.

The United Na­tions has set up a task force to curb the spread by ac­cess­ing ar­eas with poor san­i­ta­tion and con­tam­i­nated wa­ter and pro­vid­ing care and re­sponse:

UNICEF per­son­nel have been go­ing from door to door to give fam­i­lies cholera chlo­ri­na­tion tablets and ba­sic hy­giene kits con­tain­ing soap and wash­ing pow­der.

In ad­di­tion they are pro­vid­ing hos­pi­tals and health cen­tres with re­hy­dra­tion salts, in­tra­venous flu­ids, di­ar­rheal kits and staff train­ing so that chil­dren who are ad­mit­ted for Cholera can be treated im­me­di­ately, he said.

The WHO say a to­tal of $22.35 mil­lion is re­quired by their health and wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene units, of which $16.6 mil­lion is needed im­me­di­ately.

Mad­hok said: “Con­tain­ing Cholera is top pri­or­ity for UNICEF oth­er­wise many chil­dren will go through the har­row­ing and painful stages of this ill­ness, some not sur­viv­ing it.”

NOW IN GOOD HEALTH: Six-year-old Salim Mus­abih

SUF­FER­ING: A child who has cholera

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