Battling disease

Yemen: Massive cholera outbreak in Sanaa leaves 115 dead

The World Health Organisation sent in medical supplies and equipment to the war-ravaged country.

More than 115 people have died of cholera in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, local news agency Saba reported on Sunday. The country’s Ministry of Health and Population has declared a state of emergency. Another 8,567 suspected cases were reported between 27 April and May 13, while the number of laboratory-confirmed cases was pegged at 213, the news agency said. All the other districts of the war-ravaged country have also been afflicted.

The World Health Organisation and partners have responded to the crisis. In a statement published on May 11, it said it had distributed medicines and supplies, including cholera kits, oral rehydration solutions and intravenous fluids as well as medical equipment for diarrhoea treatment centres. Ten new treatment centres had been set up in the affected areas.

“We are very concerned with the re-emergence of cholera across several areas of Yemen in the past couple of weeks. Efforts must be scaled-up now to contain the outbreak and avoid a dramatic increase in cases of diarrhoeal disease,” said Nevio Zagaria, the organisation’s representative in Yemen.

“What is happening today exceeds the capabilities of any healthy health system, so how can we [cope] when we are in these difficult and complicated conditions?” Saba quoted Health Minister Mohammed Salem bin Hafeedh as saying. He urged international aid organisations and donor countries to help avert an “unprecedented” disaster, Reuters reported.

Apart from capital Sanaa, neighbouring province Amanat al-Semah has been badly hit by the cholera outbreak. Last year, too, a similar outbreak had been reported.

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