Cholera grips Yemen

Cholera grips Yemen

With more than 20 million people reliant on aid, Yemen was already the world’s single largest humanitarian crisis before it fell victim to a deadly cholera outbreak that has now claimed some 2,000 lives. By the end of 2017, the number of cholera cases is expected to top 800,000. Meanwhile, front-line workers are struggling to cope within a healthcare system decimated by two years of relentless war. Today, only 45 per cent of hospitals are operational, while less than a third of needed medicines and medical supplies are getting into the country. With no garbage collection or electricity, rubbish is piling up in the streets and water systems are crippled. The ICRC has sent critical medical supplies from seven countries, including intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts, antibiotics and chlorine tablets, and its health staff and engineers are supporting 17 cholera treatment facilities. But it’s far from enough. These photos — depicting an outbreak of an easily preventable disease — should make anyone living in the 21st century want to hang their heads in shame.

AIn Sabeein hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, a father and a mother worry as their son shows more and more symptoms of cholera. Ralph el Hage/ICRC

War in Yemen has forced many, such as this 55-year-old fisherman, into abject poverty. “This shirt I am wearing, I picked it up from the sea,” he says. Ralph el Hage/ICRC

The combination of extreme deprivation, malnutrition, lack of clean water, inadequate sanitation and no garbage disposal (such as that seen in the city of Taiz) are some of the drivers. Ali al Kawkabani/ICRC

ICRC engineers work with the staff from local water boards to keep the water flowing. Khalid al-Saeed

The Yemen Red Crescent Society, meanwhile, works on a number of fronts to prevent and respond to cholera. Below, ICRC staff and Yemen Red Crescent volunteers take part in a cleaning campaign to combat cholera inside a detention centre. Fareed al-Homaid/ICRC.

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