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)
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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.
The man-made humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen is getting worse. Prior to the closure of Yemen’s borders, over two and a half years of conflict had transformed Yemen into the world’s largest food insecurity crisis, seen deplorable attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure and unleashed an unprecedented cholera epidemic. Some 21 million are in need humanitarian assistance, seven million of whom are facing famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid to survive.
This is a summary of what was said by Meritxell Relano, UNICEF Representative in Yemen – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.