A Yemeni child suspected of being infected with cholera receives treatment inside a makeshift tent at Sabaeen hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, July 2017.
Photo: © WFP / Marco Frattini

Cholera cases in Yemen reach half a million

The spread of cholera has slowed significantly in some areas of Yemen compared to peak levels, but the disease is still spreading fast in more recently affected districts, which are recording large numbers of cases.

The total number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen in 2017 hit the half-million mark in mid-August. Nearly 2,000 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The overall caseload nation-wide has declined since early July, particularly in the worst-affected areas. But suspected cases of the deadly waterborne disease continue to rage across the country, infecting an estimated 5,000 people a day.

Yemen's cholera epidemic, currently the largest in the world, has spread rapidly due to deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions and disruptions to the water supply across the country. Millions of people are cut off from clean water, and waste collection has ceased in major cities.

A collapsing health system is struggling to cope, with more than half of all health facilities closed due to damage, destruction or lack of funds. Shortages in medicines and supplies are persistent and widespread, and 30,000 critical health workers have not been paid salaries in nearly a year.

More than 99 per cent of people sick with suspected cholera who can access health services are surviving. However, nearly 15 million people in Yemen are unable to get basic healthcare.

After three years of escalated conflict in Yemen, 60 per cent of the country is food insecure, and over half the population are unable access safe drinking water, according to Care International.
Furthermore, a crippled economy and escalating unemployment means that today, 80 per cent of families in Yemen are in debt and having to borrow money to feed their children.


(WHO/Care International/ile)