Yemen is now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world, with suspected cases exceeding 200,000 and the number increasing at an average of 5,000 a day, the United Nations warned today.
In a joint statement, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said that in just two months, cholera has spread to almost every governorate of this war-torn country.
Already more than 1,300 people have died – one quarter of them children – and the death toll is expected to rise.
“UNICEF, WHO and our partners are racing to stop the acceleration of this deadly outbreak,” they said, also calling on authorities in Yemen to strengthen their internal efforts to stop the outbreak from spreading further.
The rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Yemen has exceeded 200,000 suspected cases, increasing at an average of 5,000 a day. We are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world.
“This deadly cholera outbreak is the direct consequence of two years of heavy conflict,” the UN officials said, noting that collapsing health, water and sanitation systems have cut off 14.5 million people from regular access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the ability of the disease to spread.
The UN officials also said that rising rates of malnutrition have weakened children's health and made them more vulnerable to disease.
An estimated 30,000 dedicated local health workers who play the largest role in ending this outbreak have not been paid their salaries for nearly 10 months.
“We urge all authorities inside the country to pay these salaries and, above all, we call on all parties to end this devastating conflict,” they said.