State of emergency in Yemen's Sanaa over cholera crisis

More than 115 Yemenis have been killed by a cholera epidemic that is gripping the Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

State of emergency in Yemen's Sanaa over cholera crisis

More than 115 Yemenis have been killed by a cholera epidemic that is gripping the Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

15 May 2017 Monday 12:31
State of emergency in Yemen's Sanaa over cholera crisis

A state of emergency has been declared in Yemen's rebel-held capital, Sanaa, according to the local Saba news agency, after a cholera outbreak killed scores of people over the past two weeks.

The health ministry of the Houthi government announced the measure late on Sunday, saying that "the number of casualties surpassed the normal rates, exceeding the capacity of the health system, which has become unable to contain this unprecedented health and environmental disaster".

The ministry's statement came after the International Committee of 
the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday that a cholera outbreak has killed 115 people between between April 27 and May 13.

More than 8,500 suspected cases of the waterborne disease were reported in the same period in 14 governorates across Yemen, said ICRC Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart - up from 2,300 cases in 10 governorates last week.

This is the second outbreak of cholera in less than a year in war-torn Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country in the grips of a war between government forces, which are backed by an Arab coalition, and Houthi rebels

More than 10,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in more than two years of war, which has also destroyed much of the country's infrastructure.

Only a few medical facilities are still functioning and two-thirds of the population are without access to safe drinking water, the United Nations has said.

"What is happening today exceeds the capabilities of any healthy health system, so how can we (cope) when we are in these difficult and complicated conditions," Saba quoted health minister Mohammed Salem bin Hafeedh as saying.

The ministry, after meeting in Sanaa with UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick and other international officials, called on humanitarian organisations and aid donors to help it avert an "unprecedented disaster".

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that is transmitted through contaminated drinking water. It can be fatal within hours if left untreated.

Most sufferers exhibit mild symptoms that can be treated with oral rehydration solution, but the disease can kill within hours in severe cases if not treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

A cholera epidemic late last year petered out but outbreaks are becoming more frequent.

Sanaa has been worst hit, followed by the surrounding province of Amanat al-Semah, WHO data has shown. Cases have also been reported in other major cities including Hodeidah, Taiz and Aden.

Some 17 million of Yemen's 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in "grave peril", the UN has also said.

In December, the UNICEF, the UN agency for children, said at least one child dies every 10 minutes because of malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory-tract infections.


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