As the outbreak of cholera in Yemen continues to spread at an alarming rate – with terrible impact on children – the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called for immediate support to enable the country's health workers respond or risk even more deaths from the deadly disease.
In a statement yesterday, Meritxell Relaño, the UNICEF Representative in Yemen, said that despite massive challenges, health workers “have spared no effort in responding to the emergency – even when their salaries have not been paid for nearly nine months.”
“Without an urgent solution to pay health workers, more children will die – no matter how much humanitarian aid is delivered to the country,” she added.
According to the UN agency, more than 124,000 cholera cases have been recorded over the past month – more than half of them children, and many who were already suffering from malnutrition.
Children, also account for nearly a quarter of the 923 deaths due to the disease, which is overwhelming what remains of a health system and sanitation system already at the verge of collapse due to the conflict, now into its third year.
Now, this outbreak has left hospitals and treatment centres are struggling to cope with the large number of patients coming in from across the country and medical supplies, including vital medicines and intravenous fluids also running out.
UN and humanitarian partners are trying to respond and have airlifted some 67 tons medicinal supplies. However, the need far outpaces the supply, underscoring the need to ensure relief and health workers have safe and unrestricted access as well as resumption of imports of critical commodities, including urgently needed medicines.
“With no end in sight to the conflict, the cholera outbreak – and potentially other disease will continue to stalk the lives of children,” warned Ms. Relaño.