GENEVA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to unparalleled efforts of local health workers, the spread of diarrhea and cholera in war-torn Yemen has been effectively curbed, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) declared on Monday, but also warned as long as the fighting rages on, more deaths from infections are expected.
UNICEF accredited the slowdown to the "heroic daily fight" of local workers, with international support, against acute watery diarrhea and cholera, especially when the local health, water and sanitation personnel had not received salaries in over ten months.
The epidemic of diarrhea and cholera in Yemen, a country mired in years of dragging conflicts, still remains the worst in the world, with over 550,000 suspected cases and more than 2,000 associated deaths recorded since April, and more than half of the suspected cases being children, according to UNICEF.
A nationwide cholera awareness campaign is currently underway, mobilizing over 40,000 volunteers going house-to-house and reaching over 2.7 million families so far, or nearly 80 percent of households in Yemen.
The efforts are paying off. Nearly 12.5 million people across the country have received information on water disinfection, handwashing, sanitation and food safety, and 250,000 children and adults suffering from diarrhea have been provided with oral rehydration salts and referred for treatment, according to UNICEF.
Despite these recent gains, the fight against cholera is far from over.
Continued violence has destroyed the bulk of the country's water and sanitation systems and more than half of Yemen's health facilities are out of service. About 15 million people are cut from safe water and access to basic healthcare.
Meanwhile, the country remains on the brink of famine, with an estimated 385,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, putting them at heightened risk of acute watery diarrhea and cholera, said the UN agency.
Without an end to the fighting, more children will die, the UNICEF warned, calling on all parties in the conflict to find a peaceful political solution to the violence in Yemen.