Alarming cholera spike in Yemen coastal region

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An outbreak of cholera has spiked dramatically in several areas of Yemen, including its largest governorate of Hodeidah, Save the Children is warning.

Friday, 1 September 2017 - 10:05am

Recent health figures from the WHO reveal a far more mixed picture than reports of a nationwide slow-down have previously suggested.

In the coastal Hodeidah Governorate, where the charity runs malnutrition and cholera treatment centres, suspected cholera cases have jumped by 40% over the past 3 weeks amid heavy rains and a heatwave. Some districts are now reporting weekly caseload figures more than double their previous peaks.

Hodeidah also has some of the worst malnutrition rates in the country, with an estimated one in four children under the age of 5 suffering from acute malnutrition. Save the Children has previously warned of the deadly link between hunger and cholera, with malnourished children at least three times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases.

Neighbouring Raymah Governorate has seen an 18% increase in suspected cases over the past three weeks, while the southern port of Aden has seen a 12% jump.

James Denselow, Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Policy at Save the Children, said:

“This epidemic has spread at a frightening rate, and it’s clear we’re far from seeing the end of it. Given the ongoing bombing, and restrictions on bringing life-saving aid into the country, aid agencies are struggling to get cholera under control. Just when we think we’ve got it under control in one area, it suddenly spikes elsewhere.”

“We need to get more medical supplies, fuel and food into Yemen and to the children who need it without delay. The warring parties that are obstructing the country’s ports, roads and airspace are directly responsible for this cholera outbreak and must immediately facilitate humanitarian relief.”

Suspected cholera cases nationwide have declined from a peak of about 50,000 weekly cases at the end of June – but that drop stalled three weeks ago. Levels now remain at about 35,000 new cases every week.

In the last four months, there have been more than 591,100 suspected cases of cholera and 2,035 deaths, according to WHO figures from 30 August.

Children make up an increasing proportion of both suspected cases and deaths – representing 54% of cholera infections and nearly a third of all deaths.