Monday, 25 September 2017

A war-torn Yemen is currently facing the world

A war-torn Yemen is currently facing the “world’s worst cholera outbreak”, declared the United Nations recently. The ravaged country was on the brink of famine, and now it’s being destroyed by a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions. According to International Health Authorities, the cholera outbreak has reached an estimated half a million people, while 5,000 more cases are reported each day. The disease has killed over 2,000 people since April 2017. 

Cholera, a water borne disease caused by the ingestion of infected food and water, is easily treatable with access to clean water, sanitation, replenishing fluids and good nutrition. But, the effects of a debilitating war that’s lasted for three years and counting has left long lasting depressions in Yemen. The public health systems have collapsed and is becoming difficult to achieve coverage. It is tragic, because the disease is vaccine preventable and contagious. A disease which can be cured today has taken the lives of so many.

The total number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen this year hit the half a million mark in August  and nearly 2,000 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April,” WHO said in its statement.[2]

The ongoing war has devastated the country’s infrastructure and has left the majority of the population without access to basic services like clean water or even enough food. The levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are increasing, leaving the majority susceptible to a wide number of diseases. Medical attention is a scarce due to frequent bombings. The unlawful air-strikes have struck hospitals, food factories, prisons, trucks transporting food, schools and most recently a hotel. Each of these have shamefully targeted and killed civilians while displacing thousands.

Yemen’s health workers are operating in impossible conditions. Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “To save lives in Yemen today we must support the health system, especially the health workers.” [3]
WHO and its partners are efforting to control the cholera outbreak while working closely with UNICEF, Yemen’s local health authorities to treat the affected and control further outbreak. They have sent thousands of bags of intravenous fluids to the country since April. The organization has also provided 525 beds with cleaning supplies and 112 kits for treating cholera. In partnership with UNICEF, WHO has established 2,924 diarrhea treatment beds as well as several oral dehydration therapy areas.

“We urge the Yemeni authorities – and all those in the region and elsewhere who can play a role – to find a political solution to this conflict that has already caused so much suffering. The people of Yemen cannot bear it much longer – they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country,“ Dr Tedros said.[5] 

According to World Health Organization, the right strategy and funding could eliminate the disease within a few years as the great news is that the world has access to safe, effective and affordable vaccines, a possibility which was unlikely before 2011. By vaccinating the population at risk and maintaining clean water, hygiene and sanitation, the disease would no longer pose a threat to global health. Such unforeseen epidemics like the Cholera outbreak in Haiti, Yemen, Bangladesh and India calls for innovative interventions to ensure quick accessibility of vaccines in limited-resource setting areas. One such example is the existence of heat-stable vaccines which holds the potential to ensure maximum coverage. The immunization gap could be bridged since they are not temperature sensitive driving down the logistics cost.

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