Yemen cholera outbreak now world’s worst, say two top UN officials

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A child with severe diarrhoea or cholera receives treatment at the Sab’een Hospital in Sana’a, Yemen,on 12 May 2017. © UNICEF/UN065873/Alzekri

The number of suspected cases of cholera in Yemen has surpassed 200,000, making it the worst outbreak of the disease in the world.

That's according to the heads of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement issued on Saturday.

Cholera is caused by ingesting contaminated water or food.  It is characterized by water diarrhoea and can be fatal if untreated.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said its spread in Yemen is the result of ongoing conflict that has damaged health facilities and other basic services.
Dianne Penn has the story.

In Yemen, the cholera rate is increasing by an average of 5,000 cases a day, the two UN agency chiefs reported.

They said the disease has spread to nearly all 22 governorates in just two months.

So far, more than 1,300 people have died, a quarter of them children, and the numbers are expected to rise.

Meanwhile, UNICEF, WHO and their partners are racing to reach people with clean water, adequate sanitation and medical treatment.

The statement called on the authorities to strengthen efforts to stop the outbreak from spreading further.

The UN officials said the deadly outbreak is the "direct consequence" of two years of heavy conflict in Yemen.

More than 14 million people do not have regular access to clean water and sanitation due to the collapsing health system and other basic services, they pointed out.

Furthermore, they said some 30,000 health workers have not been paid in nearly 10 months.

They urged the authorities to pay their salaries and also  called on all sides to end the conflict.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.


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