UNICEF Regional Director, Geert Cappelaere, recently returned from a visit to Yemen to oversee the organizations’s response to the unprecedented cholera outbreak and said it’s turning an already dire situation for children turn into a disaster.
As of Friday, over 73,700 suspected cholera cases and 605 associated deaths have been reported in 19 governorates over the past month. And it appears the crisis it only going to get worse.
Cappelaere said the number of suspected cases is expected to reach 130,000 within the next two weeks.
“Cholera doesn’t need a permit to cross a checkpoint or a border, nor does it differentiate between areas of political control, he said.
“Countless children around Yemen die every day in silence from causes that can easily be prevented or treated like cholera, diarrhea or malnutrition.
“I met health workers racing against time to prevent cholera from killing more children. They are dedicated and committed, despite not receiving their salaries in almost nine months. They are Yemen’s unsung heroes and we have to do everything possible to provide them with the medical supplies and the support they desperately need. All authorities in Yemen must come together to start paying the country’s civil servants again”.
The health sector in Yemen is on the verge of collapse. At least 274 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed.
More than half of all health facilities in Yemen are either closed or only partially functioning. An estimated 14.8 million people now lack access to basic healthcare, including 8.8 million living in severely under-served areas, 14.5 million people lack access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Most of those infected will have no or mild symptoms but, in severe cases, the disease can kill within hours if left untreated.
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