WHO releases emergency funds to support cholera response in Yemen

27 October 2016 – The World Health Organization (WHO) has released approximately US$ 1 million from its internal emergency funds to support the ongoing response to the cholera outbreak in Yemen. Since the outbreak was announced by the Ministry of Public Health and Population on 6 October, a total of 1184 suspected cases of cholera, including 6 deaths, have been reported. 47 cases have tested positive for Vibrio cholerae. However, a chronic lack of funding for Yemen is impeding action by WHO and health partners to effectively control and respond to the current outbreak.

These new funds, provided by WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Emergency Solidarity Fund, will allow WHO to rapidly scale-up priority response activities to effectively monitor and control the outbreak by:

  • continuing to scale-up WHO and national surveillance interventions
  • enhancing diagnosis capacity by providing essential support to laboratories
  • increasing the number of diarrhoea/cholera treatment centres
  • training national staff on case definition and management
  • pre-positioning medical supplies in high-risk areas
  • organizing health education campaigns among at-risk populations.

More than 7.6 million people are currently living in the areas affected by the outbreak, and more than 3 million internally displaced persons are especially vulnerable. Without a sustained response, cases of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera are likely to increase, with predictions of up to 76 000 additional cases across 15 governorates, including 15 200 severe cases requiring admission for cholera treatment.

In response to the cholera outbreak, on 17 October, WHO issued a donor appeal on behalf of the Yemen Health and WASH Clusters for US$ 22.35 million. Of this amount, US$ 8.5 million was requested by the Health Cluster. As of 26 October, contributions totaling US$1.7 million (20% of health requirements) have been received for health activities against this appeal:

  • US$ 700 000 from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund
  • US$ 506 000 from WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies
  • US$ 498 000 from WHO’s Regional Emergency Solidarity Fund.