WHO Calls For Ceasefire on August 4-6
War-torn Yemen is on the brink of facing another cholera outbreak as conflict continues to torment the Middle East nation. But this time, the outbreak is deadlier, warned the World Health Organization.
WHO warned that with the interplay of prevailing problems such as massive malnutrion, a cholera outbreak is imminent and could be more life threatening.
According to WHO’s emergency response chief, Peter Salama, due to the years of conflict between rebels and government forces, the population is weakened and susceptible to another deadly cholera outbreak.
“What we are likely to see is that interplay with cholera and malnutrition occurring more and more and food insecurity,” he said. “And, not only more cases because of that, but even higher death rates among the cholera cases that do occur because people just do not have the physical resources to fight the disease any longer.”
Reports say considerable numbers of cases of cholera were recorded recently near the populated capital, Sanaa, and the major port city of Hodeidah, where recent conflict has hampered WHO’s efforts to prevent the disease.
More than 1.1 million suspected cholera cases have been recorded in Yemen since April 2017, according to the latest WHO figures, with more than 2,300 associated deaths.
Calls For Ceasefire
Alarmed by a possible cholera epidemic, WHO called for a ceasefire for the warring parties. They requested to have three days of tranquility between August 4 and 6 so that WHO and its partners could launch a massive oral cholera vaccination campaign.
To be able to reinforce the vaccination campaign against cholera, 3,000 health workers are being mobilized in three districts in northern Yemen. Their aim is to vaccinate more than 500,000 individuals above the age of one.
Cholera causes severe dehydration and can be deadly within hours if not treated. But 80% of cholera cases can be treated and resolved with oral hydration salts if they are available. The disease is most common in places with poor sanitation, crowding, war, and famine.
The disease remains a global threat and is one of the key indicators of social development, according to WHO. While cholera no longer poses a threat to countries with high standards of hygiene, it remains a challenge in countries with limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Blame it on Civil War
Many blamed the civil war that erupted on March 2015 as the major factor in the spread of the disease. The war destroyed the country’s health care system, devastated infrastructure and caused famine as well. In fact, the two and half years of civil war put seven million of the 27-million strong population on the brink of famine.
Aside from that, the health system is at breaking point, allowing cholera to balloon across the entire country.
The crisis is becoming even worse given that salaries for civil servants including health workers in public hospitals have not been paid for more than a year.
Aid organisations are struggling to reach people in remote, recently hit areas. Military restrictions also caused delay in the delivery of aid. Less than half of the country’s medical centres are still functional, around 14.5 million people don’t have regular access to clean water, thus worsening the crisis.
Yemen has had two major waves of cholera epidemics in recent years. Last year, cholera cases in Yemen topped one million in the world’s worst outbreak of the disease.