Yemen: Cholera Continues to Spread

A caretaker stands next to his mother inside MSF's cholera treatment center in Al-Kuwait Hospital in Sana’a.
Malak Shaher/MSF
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The number of suspected cholera cases reported by World Health Organization (WHO) and national health authorities in Yemen between early April 2017 and June 17 from the escalation of the disease’s outbreak reached 151,400, with 1,054 deaths registered.

Cases are now being reported from 19 out of 22 governorates, four more than during the last outbreak of the infection. Between early April and  June 18, MSF receivecd 41,479 patients with cholera and acute watery diarrhea. Of the more than 41,000 patients seen since 30 March, over 17,000 people sought treatment between June 4 and 18.

Health workers and all relevant authorities need to work hand in hand to control the epidemic. Poor sanitation and the lack of safe drinking water due to Yemen’s ongoing conflict make the population, particularly people suffering from chronic and acute malnutrition, more susceptible to cholera.

As the outbreak spreads to poorer communities in remote areas, it is increasingly difficult for those affected to travel to health facilities in time to be treated.

Outreach activities, including chlorination of infected water sources and the distribution of hygiene kits, are key to limiting the spread of the disease. Many households in Yemen use individual wells, which will make the detection of corrupted water sources a lengthy process.

In the first few weeks of the outbreak, MSF was working in five cholera treatment centers (CTC). To help cope with the rising number of patients, teams are now running nine cholera treatment centers, seven cholera treatment units, and two stabilization units in nine governorates (Amran, Hajjah, Ad Dhale, Hodaidah, Ibb, Taiz, Sana’a, Aden, and Abyan). MSF is expanding the capacity of some CTCs and evaluating needs in other locations where it is providing support through donations.

MSF will focus on chlorination of wells and hygiene promotion in hard-to-reach areas. Awareness-raising is to be carried out via radio stations and in collaboration with mosques. MSF will provide hygiene kits and disinfection kits to patients and their families at CTCs.