UN reports spike in cholera cases among children in Yemen
Cholera cases have increased in Yemen within recent weeks, where 108,889 suspected cases and 190 deaths have been reported since January. Approximately one-third of these cases have been reported in children aged younger than 5 years, according to a report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
In 2017, Yemen experienced what WHO called the worst cholera outbreak in the world, with more than 1 million suspected cases occurring between April and December of that year.
Nearly two-thirds of the current cases were identified in six governorates: Amanat Al Asimah, Al Hudaydah, Sana’a, Ibb, Amran and Dhamar.
“The recent increase in suspected cholera cases is possibly linked to early rains, increased awareness among the population and therefore a willingness to seek testing and treatment and enhanced disease surveillance,” the authors of the report wrote. “The situation is exacerbated by poor maintenance of sewage disposal systems in many of the affected districts, the use of contaminated water for irrigation and population movements.”
The Yemeni government has joined with humanitarian partners to reduce further transmission in 147 “priority districts.” Part of that effort includes storing water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, prepositioning fuel for water pumps, and deploying rapid response teams to investigate cases, according to the U.N. Additionally, all priority districts have established diarrhea treatment centers and oral rehydration centers, and various groups have asked for support to repair both water and sanitation systems to disinfect water.
To enhance surveillance in the country, WHO has trained 125 lab technicians on sample collection, transportation, lab diagnosis and proper reporting, and they will further provide reagents to public health labs in Taizz, Ibb, Al Hudaydah, Aden and Sana’a.
The organization said it is also providing incentives for almost 2,300 health workers, as well as financial and technical support for 333 rapid response teams.
OCHA - Yemen humanitarian update covering 7-21 March 2019. https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-humanitarian-update-covering-7-21-march-2019-issue-5. Accessed March 25, 2019.