- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2017

The ongoing cholera crisis in Yemen is one of the worst outbreaks in the world and is expected to get far worse, with the World Health Organization warning that the rainy season will increase the pace of transmission. Tens of millions of Yemenis lack access to clean water, sanitation and basic health care, as three years of civil war have decimated the country and shows no sign of resolution.

The World Health Organization has recorded 368,207 suspected cases of cholera and 1,828 deaths since April 27. Every day, nearly 5,000 Yemenis suffer from symptoms of acute watery diarrhea and cholera, the organization said in a statement released Friday.

The young and the elderly are the most affected by the outbreak, with children under 15 years old making up 41 percent of all suspected cases, and one-third of all deaths from cholera are people over the age 60, the WHO said.

Cholera is an infectious and fatal bacterial disease contracted from drinking contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, resulting in serious dehydration.

The WHO reports modest gains in the the decline of suspected cases within the past two weeks, but notes that the data should be interpreted with “great caution,” as record centers are overwhelmed and backlogged.

Nearly 15 million people don’t have access to basic health care and access to clean water and sanitation, the WHO reported, adding that 17 million people in the country don’t have access to enough food.

The country is in the third year of a devastating civil war, originally between Houthi rebels and the regime, but that has grown into a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the U.S.

Over 10,000 civilians have been killed, 2 million are internally displaced, and tens of millions in need of humanitarian assistance, according to aid organizations and the United Nations.

The WHO is appealing for help to scale up its services, which include providing access to clean water and sanitation, setting up treatment centers, training health workers, and reinforcing surveillance and working with communities to identify and prevent the spread of cholera.

“People are dying in Yemen right now because they cannot access health care,” Dr. Nevio Zagaria, the WHO Representative in Yemen, said in a statement on July 3.

At that time, the WHO announced a 403-ton shipment of medical supplies which included 20 ambulances, 100 cholera kids, hospital equipment and 128,000 bags of intravenous fluids, among others, the statement said.

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