The humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen rages on as the year comes to a close and the problem with infectious disease outbreaks continue in lock-step as part of the crisis.

Image/Alexas_Fotos via pixabay
Image/Alexas_Fotos via pixabay

First, the number of cholera cases in the current outbreak has followed in line with ICRC Yemen delegation head Alexandre Faite’s prediction in late September–“Considering the figures I was given in the past, we could be to one million at the end of the year.”

According to the latest cholera outbreak numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Dec. 22, 1,002,682 cases and 2,227 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began on April 27. Half of the cases are reported in children 14 years and younger (523,826).

In addition to cholera, the suspected diphtheria outbreak in Yemen continues to grow, particularly in Ibb Governorate. From 13 August through 21 December 2017, a total of 333 suspected cases including 35 deaths (case fatality ratio = 10.5%) have been reported from 20 governorates. Fourteen of the deaths occurred in children under five years old.

WHO notes that in the absence of laboratory-confirmation, the current situation is being treated as an outbreak of suspected diphtheria based on clinical diagnosis.

The public health response has focused on providing guidance and support for the clinical management of cases and contacts, establishing referral pathways and isolation units, supporting laboratory confirmation of suspected cases, providing medicines and medical supplies, vaccinating children and young adults in high-risk areas, and engaging with communities on all aspects of the outbreak, including the treatment and prevention of diphtheria cases.