Yemen's cholera epidemic could surge again in rainy season: ICRC

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-21 09:54:22|Editor: Jiaxin
Video PlayerClose

SANAA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Cholera that infected almost 1 million people in Yemen last year could surge again in the rainy season, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday.

ICRC spokesman Adnan Hizam said that there are growing fears that the epidemic which killed over 2,000 people last year could break out again within weeks during the upcoming rainy season.

"The ongoing war and collapse of the health system are increasing the expectations of a new surge of cholera infections," Hizam told Xinhua in Yemen's capital Sanaa.

Hizam said the decline in the number of cholera infections did not mean that the epidemic was about to be over, which can happen only if the war stops, blockade is lifted and the international community supports the health system in Yemen.

In November 2017, the United Nations (UN) reported more than 925,000 suspected cholera cases with over 2,200 associated deaths in Yemen since the epidemic started in April of the same year. The infection rate has since been in decline, at around 0.2 to 0.3 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

The UN said more than 80 percent of cholera cases were in the areas closest to the Red Sea ports of Hodeidah and Saleef.

The entire 25 million people of Yemen are dependent on food, fuel and medicine imports, primarily through seaports and more than 17 million Yemenis, or more than two-thirds of the population, are food insecure, according to the UN.

The war-torn country has also suffered from a diphtheria epidemic that has infected over 1,300 and killed 70 people, mostly children, since it was first reported in October 2017.

Yemen has been locked in a civil war since three years ago after Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces including Sanaa in late 2014.

Saudi Arabia has been leading an Arab military intervention coalition in Yemen since March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after Houthi rebels forced him into exile.

The UN has listed Yemen as the country with the world's worst humanitarian crisis, where 7 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine and cholera has caused more than 2,000 deaths.