Cholera in Yemen "another public health crisis in the making": UNICEF

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UNHCR assistance is distributed for more than 6,200 individuals in Taizz's embattled district of Mokha, one of the worst affected areas in the Yemeni governorate. Photo: UNHCR/Adem Shaqiri

With 250 confirmed cases of cholera, Yemen is staring at "another public health crisis in the making", according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Briefing reporters on Tuesday in Geneva, UNICEF's Christophe Boulierac said that 130 had died so far following 11,000 suspected cases of diarrhea, some of which were confirmed to have been cholera.

A third of all cases were children, he said.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Boulierac said that cholera was spreading fast in a country where basic social services were collapsing as a result of two years of conflict, between government and rebel forces. 

Around 2.2 million children are malnourished, including 462,000 seriously so, he added. 

Yemen was becoming an increasingly dangerous country for children to live in. 

"Yemenis are staring at yet another public health crisis in the making. Over 130 deaths so far, of which some are confirmed to be because of cholera. As of today, 25 per cent of the cases are from Sana'a. One third of the cases collectively are estimated to be children." 

He said that hospitals and treatment centres were struggling to cope with the large numbers of patients needing treatment, in all parts of the war-torn country. 

He added that there was a chronic shortage of doctors and nursing staff to cope with the cholera outbreak. 

He said health authorities, UN agencies and partners "were trying their best to respond to the crisis" which is already more severe than a previous outbreak in October last year. 

Matthew Wells, United Nations. 

Duration: 1'08"

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