UNICEF has delivered 36 tons of lifesaving medical and water purification supplies to Yemen, increasing efforts to combat the world’s worst cholera outbreak.
Two months into the epidemic and the number of cases has surpassed 200,000.
Cholera spreads by faeces getting into food or water.
War-torn Yemen with its bombed infrastructure and inadequate water treatment facilities is a perfect breeding ground.
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien on June 22 described the cholera outbreak in Yemen as a “man-made catastrophe” caused by the warring sides in the country’s civil war and their international backers.
“In the Sab’een hospital’s cholera ward where I am working, we receive countless patients every day; and we are working around the clock, we receive two, three to four cases every minute, which is a huge number,” explained Dr Ismail al Mansoury who is a child specialist.
More than 1300 people have already died – one quarter of them children.
Soon after the outbreak began, the WHO saw a risk that it could affect 300,000 people within six months. Although most of Yemen’s health infrastructure is not functioning and health workers have not been paid for more than six months, the WHO is paying “incentives” to medics to staff an emergency cholera network, with treatment centres of 50-60 beds each open around the clock. Oral rehydration points, whose job is to catch cholera cases before they become severe, have had the most impact. The WHO is aiming for 2,800 such sites.