More than 100 dead, thousands infected as cholera outbreak sweeps across Yemen

by WorldTribune Staff, May 15, 2017

War weary Yemen is now dealing with a “serious outbreak of cholera” that has killed 115 people, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on May 14, citing local health authorities.

Thousands more have been infected and approximately 7.6 million people live in cholera-threatened areas, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa. /AP

Yemen’s sanitation infrastructure has nearly collapsed after more than two years of conflict between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led Arab coalition backing Yemen’s internationally-recognized government.

With hundreds of the country’s health facilities out of service, aid organizations have warned of a “catastrophic” situation.

“There are up to four cholera patients in one single bed,” said Dominik Stillhart, director of operations at ICRC, during a press conference in Sanaa. “There are people in the garden, and some even in their cars with the IV drip hanging from the window.”

Cholera, a waterborne bacterial infection, can be treated but it can kill within hours if left untreated.

Since mid-April, more than 8,500 suspected cases of cholera have been reported to health authorities across the country. Sanaa has recorded the highest number of cases, along with its surrounding Amanat al-Semah province, health authorities said.

The UN has warned of a worsening humanitarian disaster as the fighting shows no sign of stopping in the near future. Only 45 percent of the country’s 3,500 health facilities surveyed by the WHO are fully functional and accessible.