Yemen: Diphtheria Outbreak - Nov 2017Ongoing
Diphtheria is making an alarming comeback in the war torn country, with 189 clinically diagnosed cases and 20 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 governorates. The closest points of entry to Ibb are in Sana’a and Hodeida, making it crucial that Sana’a airport and the port of Hodeida remain open. (WHO, 27 Nov 2017)
By 4 December, 318 suspected cases of diphtheria and 28 deaths had been reported in 15 of Yemen’s 20 governorates. Half the suspected cases are children between the ages of 5 and 14, and nearly 95% of deaths are children under 15. Nearly 70% of all suspected cases are in Ibb governorate. (MSF, 12 Dec 2017)
312 suspected cases of diphtheria have been reported in Yemen between mid-August and 20 December. The outbreak has resulted in 35 deaths reported. At 11%, the case fatality rate (CFR) is high. 18 out of Yemen’s 22 governorates are affected, with Ibb having the majority of cases. (ACAPS, 22 Dec 2017)
As of 28 January 2018, Yemen is grappling with a spike in diphtheria, which has claimed 48 lives in the last two months. WHO reported on 11 January 2018 that diphtheria-related deaths had been recorded in 19 governorates. Across the country, 610 suspected cases have been reported. The diphtheria outbreak occurs against the backdrop of a cholera epidemic accounting for more than 2,200 lives lost and more than one million suspected cases reported, since April 2017. (OCHA, 28 Jan 2018)
WHO reports that, as of 15 February 2018, the cumulative number of suspected diphteria cases is 1,085 with 66 associated deaths. 20 governorates and 162 districts have reported suspected cases. Ibb and Al Hudaydah are the most affected governorates. Children under the age of five years account for 30 per cent of suspected cases and for 47 per cent of dipheria associated deaths. (OCHA, 18 Feb 2018)
As of 14 April 2018, the local health authorities reported a total of 1,584 suspected diphtheria cases including 85 associated deaths (CFR=5.4%). The diphtheria outbreak has affected 195 districts from 20 governorates. At governorate level, Ibb and Sana'a are the most affected governorates. Children (<5 years of age) represent 20% of suspected diphtheria cases and 38% of associated deaths. The most affected age group is 5-15 years old representing 44 % of the cases. A cumulative total of 6,842 diphtheria contacts have been given preventative antibiotics, 142 during week 15. (WHO/Gov't of Yemen, 14 Apr 2018)
As of 24 June 2018, local health authorities confirmed a cumulative total of 1,907 suspected diphtheria cases, included 98 associated deaths with Ibb and Sana’a among the most affected governorates. Children between 5-15 years old are the most affected, representing 44% of all cases. (UNICEF, 30 Jun 2018)
The weekly number of probable diphtheria cases identified has remained generally stable over the past several weeks, according to the Yemen Ministry of Public Health and Population (MOPHP). Less than five new probable cases were confirmed during the last week of December 2018, according to the MOPHP. These levels are slightly lower than those reported over the previous month and are significantly lower than those observed since the peak of the outbreak in January 2018, when the number of probable cases identified approached or exceeded 100 cases per week. In terms of cumulative numbers, the governorates worst affected by the diphtheria outbreak include Ibb, Sana’a, Hajjah, and Al Hudaydah governorates. (FEWS NET, 17 Jan 2019)
A total cumulative of probable diphtheria cases has reached 3,543 cases, with 203 associated deaths (a CFR rate of 5.7 per cent). As of 31 March, 22 governorates and 233 districts are reportedly affected by the diphtheria outbreak. Given the onset of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria and measles, UNICEF has continued to prioritize and expand on its immunization activities in Yemen. (UNICEF, 31 Mar 2019)
As of the end of June, there have been over 3,800 probable cases, with 214 associated deaths. (UNICEF, 30 Jun 2019)
Maps & Infographics
Most read reports
- WHO: WHO EMRO Weekly Epidemiological Monitor: Volume 12, Issue 44 (03 November 2019). 11 Nov 2019
- ACAPS: Access to Basic Needs in Yemen: Scenarios - Possible developments affecting Yemenis' access to basic needs and services in 2020. 7 Nov 2019
- OCHA: 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (January-December 2019) [EN/AR]. 19 Feb 2019
- OCHA: Yemen: Humanitarian Response Plan January-December 2018 [EN/AR]. 20 Jan 2018
- OCHA: Yemen Humanitarian Update Covering 7 - 21 March 2019 | Issue 5 [EN/AR]. 24 Mar 2019
Diphtheria is making an alarming comeback in Yemen, with 318 clinically-diagnosed cases and 21 deaths reported in 15 governorates in the last three months (3 December). Ibb remains the most affected governorate (67% of reported cases). A vaccination campaign started in the two worst-affected sub-districts, targeting 8500 children.
On 7th December the European Commission announced new humanitarian aid of €25 million to support civilians in desperate need in Yemen. This brings the total EU funding to €196.7 million since the start of the conflict in 2015.
The current measures restricting humanitarian and commercial access together with the intense armed clashes and air strikes reported from Sana'a over recent days threaten to further deprive people from food, water and basic services.
UN Should Sanction Senior Saudi Leaders
(Beirut) – The Saudi-led coalition’s broad restrictions on aid and essential goods to Yemen’s civilian population are worsening the country’s humanitarian catastrophe, Human Rights Watch said today. Unless the coalition immediately stops blocking aid and commercial goods from reaching civilians in Houthi-controlled territory, the United Nations Security Council should impose travel bans and asset freezes on senior coalition leaders, including the Saudi crown prince and defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman.
Diphtheria is making an alarming comeback in Yemen, with 189 clinically-diagnosed cases and 20 deaths reported in 13 governorates in the last three months, as of 27 November. Ibb governorate is the most affected with an estimated 72% of reported cases. A vaccination campaign targeting 300 000 children started and further vaccination rounds are scheduled to target three million people in December. Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease which can cause devastating epidemics, mainly affecting children. Its resurgence is a direct symptom of the collapsed health system.
28 November 2017 – The United Nations food relief agency said Tuesday that humanitarian air service into Yemen has resumed, and a ship waiting in international waters for three weeks has now docked in Saleef, stressing that unhindered access to all airports and ports is vital to end the dire situation in the conflict-ravaged southern Arabian country.
27 November 2017 | Sana'a - WHO has delivered medicines to tackle an outbreak of diphtheria in Yemen, warning that sustained humanitarian access is critical to stopping its spread.
The shipment of 1,000 vials of life-saving anti-toxins and 17 tonnes of medical supplies arrived in Sanaa on Monday (November 27) after being stalled by the three-week closure of sea and air ports.
More than 5,000 civilians have been killed and 9,000 injured in the conflict in Yemen over the last three years. More than 70% of the population–21 million Yemenis–need emergency aid and to make matters worse, on November 6, a blockade was imposed, preventing the entry of food, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid into the country. Yemeni ports of entry are beginning to see some desperately needed shipments of food and aid, but 7 million people in the country continue to be on the brink of famine. Arnaud Pont, Yemen emergency desk officer at HI explains the gravity of the situation:
This is a summary of what was said by Geert Cappalaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at in Amman, Jordan.
AMMAN, 26 November 2017 - Today’s briefing has been triggered by our successful delivery yesterday of 1.9 million doses of vaccines to Sana’a airport.
Current major event
Diphtheria in Yemen
A significant increase in suspected diphtheria cases has recently been reported in Yemen between epidemiological week no 33 and 44. A total number of 118 suspected cases including 10 deaths (CFR: ing 9 associated deaths (CFR: 8.7%). 8.5%), were reported in 10 governorates of the country. Majority of these cases– about 103 were reported from Ibb governorate, including 9 associated deaths (CFR: 8.7%).
SANA’A/AMMAN/NEW YORK, 25 November 2017 - A UNICEF-chartered aircraft carrying lifesaving vaccines has landed in Sana’a airport earlier today.
The aircraft carried 1.9 million doses of vaccines. The vaccines will reach 600,000 children in a nation-wide vaccination campaign all over Yemen. The campaign aims at immunizing children against diseases including diphtheria, whooping cough, tuberculosis, pneumonia and meningitis.
Danger of Cholera comeback as four in five people will be without steady water supply
Eight million people in Yemen will be without running water within days as fuel runs out due to the Saudi-led coalition blockade of the country's northern ports, Oxfam warned today.
They will join the almost 16 million people in Yemen who already cannot get clean piped water, leaving more than four in five people without a steady supply of clean water.
Following the announcement on 22 November by the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) that Sana’a airport and Al Hudaydah seaport will be reopened for humanitarian and relief efforts, the United Nations has submitted a deconfliction notification to SLC to resume the transport of aid personnel and humanitarian cargo to northern parts of Yemen and is awaiting confirmation.
12 days since land, air and seaports in Yemen were closed, Oxfam and 13 other aid agencies are appalled by the complacency and indifference of the international community regarding the historic humanitarian disaster now unfolding.
• In week 46, there were 14,955 suspected cholera cases and 6 associated deaths. No governorate reported a CFR higher than 1%.
• Cumulative (27 April to 19 November 2017) total of 945,362 suspected cholera cases, 2,211 associated deaths, and CFR of 0.23 %.
• Children under 5 years old represent 27.8 % of total suspected cases.
• Country level trend over the past 3 weeks is considered decreased.
• Trend between weeks 43 and 45 was stable or decreased among all governorates.
17 November 2017 – The United Nations relief wing on Friday, warned of famine-like conditions unfolding in Yemen, as a blockade on aid and other essential goods by a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels there enters its 12th day.
Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), sounded the alarm during the regular bi-weekly news briefing in Geneva.
Statement by WFP Executive Director David Beasley, UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, and WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
ROME / GENEVA / NEW YORK - “While the Saudi-led military coalition has partially lifted the recent blockade of Yemen, closure of much of the country’s air, sea and land ports is making an already catastrophic situation far worse. The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, as of 12 November, there are over 925,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen, with more than 2,200 associated deaths. Aid workers continue to respond to the outbreak, but warn that fuel to run hospital generators and to pump clean water will run out in less than three weeks. Vaccines needed to treat diphtheria will also run out in two weeks. Ships and planes carrying humanitarian supplies have been unable to reach Yemen since the start of the blockade.