In a follow-up in the rapidly spreading diphtheria outbreak in Yemen, Communications and media officer for the World Health Organization (WHO), Ms. Fadela Chaib said at a press briefing Tuesday that the current numbers are 678 probable diphtheria cases and 48 associated deaths reported with a case fatality rate of 7 percent.
Nineteen governorates out of 23 were affected by the outbreak. The most severely affected governorates were Ibb and Hudaydah. Children under the age of 5 years old accounted for 19% of suspected cases and for 27% of deaths. WHO and its partners, were working to provide vaccines against diphtheria. UNICEF has imported 2.5 million doses of pentavalent vaccines and 3 million doses of Td vaccines. They stood ready to support the campaign to all age groups as needed.
Responding to inquiries from reporters concerning diphtheria, she said the outbreak in Yemen highlighted the major gaps in routine vaccination and an extremely weak health system. When the outbreak had started, antitoxins and vaccines had been in short supply in the country. However, it had been possible to import them in mid-December 2017, even though initially import restrictions had made it difficult. Additional diphtheria vaccine doses were ready to be shipped.
Concerning the cholera outbreak, Ms. Chaib said that the cumulative total of suspected cases had surpassed 1 million and there had been 2,244 associated deaths. The overall case fatality rate was 0.22%. The number of cholera cases had decreased over the previous few months but monitoring of the situation was still necessary.
According to WHO official numbers as of Jan. 17, 1,039,005 cholera cases have been reported since Apr. 27, 2017, including 2244 deaths.
No cholera vaccination campaign had been put in place.