In a follow-up on the diphtheria re-emergence in Yemen, UN health officials say the outbreak of the vaccine-preventable disease has grown to 197 cases, including 22 deaths mostly children and young adults – in the last three months.

Most diphtheria cases and deaths have been reported in Ibb governorate but the outbreak is spreading fast, already affecting 13 of Yemen’s 22 governorates.

“It is shocking that in 2017, there are children dying of an ancient disease that is vaccine-preventable and can be easily treated,” said Dr Nevio Zagaria, WHO Country Representative in Yemen.

Last week, a shipment of 1,000 vials of life-saving anti-toxins and 17 tons of medical supplies arrived in Sanaa after being stalled by the three-week closure of sea and air ports.

A vaccination campaign targeting 300,000 children younger than 12 months began last weekend. Further vaccination rounds for more than 3 million children and young adults in priority districts are due in December.