On Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the cholera outbreak in Yemen has now taken the lives of 315 people. The number of suspected cases of cholera has reached almost 30,000.
For the war-torn country, Yemen’s medical system is at risk of collapse. There is a significant lack of food, clean water, and medication. This has created an environment for the disease to spread quickly. Last week, the rebel-held city of Sana declared a state of emergency due to a large number of detected cholera cases.
The Yemeni Civil War has been raging since 2015. The conflict between Houthi rebels and the government of Yemen has displaced millions of Yemeni civilians. The war has had a major impact on the infrastructure and medical services of the already impoverished country.
According to UN estimates, at least 7.6 million people live in cholera-threatened areas. In combination, more than half of Yemen’s medical facilities do not function. As a result, the WHO warns that there will be an “extremely high” number of deaths and potentially 300,000 cases within the next six months.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection which is caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water. While easily treatable, the disease can be fatal within a few hours. It is treated with oral rehydration, in order to replace the fluids and salts lost.
This resurgence of cholera is unprecedented in Yemen, according to WHO Yemen representative Nevio Zagaria. If conditions continue, he warns that the cost of lives lost will be “extremely, extremely high.”