Yemen cholera cases surpass one million: WHO

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Patients suffering from severe diarrhoea or cholera receive treatment at the Sab’een Hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, in May 2017. ©UNICEF/UN065880/Alzekri

The number of suspected cases of cholera in Yemen has passed the one million mark, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

The war-torn country is in the grip of the world's worst single-year outbreak of the diarrhoeal disease, which is linked to poor access to clean water and sanitation.

Cholera can kill within hours if left untreated.

Dianne Penn reports.

The cholera epidemic in Yemen began in April and as of Friday, there are 1,001,428 suspected cases and more than 2,200 associated deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said while the weekly average of cases has decreased significantly over the past three months, the epidemic is not yet over.

The UN agency called for more action to ensure control measures in the immediate term as well as prevention of further outbreaks in the near future.

Tarik Jasarevic is a WHO spokesperson in Geneva:

"Since the beginning of the cholera outbreak we have saved tens of thousands of lives by establishing treatment centres, delivering supplies, distributing public health guidance, training health workers, and working with communities on prevention. But it's really important to understand that this is not one million people who are sick today:  99.7% of them in fact survived and recovered from cholera."

WHO added that Yemen is also experiencing a "rapidly spreading" diphtheria outbreak, affecting 18 of its 22 governorates.

These crises are taking place against a background of more than two years of fighting between government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and rebels known as Houthis.

WHO said the country's health system has been disrupted, with "crippling difficulties" regarding the movement of goods and personnel.

Dianne Penn, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’27″

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