The World Health Organization and health partners urgently require support from the international donor community to contain the spread of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera in Yemen. A total of US$ 22.35 million is required by the Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene clusters, of which US$ 16.6 million is immediately required.
As of 17 October, a total of 340 suspected cases have been reported, of which 18 have tested positive forVibrio cholerae in Taiz, Al-Hudaydah, Aden, Al Bayda, Lahj, and Sana’a governorates. Patients are currently receiving treatment. No deaths have been reported.
More than 7.6 million people are living in the affected areas, and more than 3 million internally displaced persons are especially vulnerable to the outbreak. The health of these populations is already compromised as a result of food shortages, increased malnutrition and lack of adequate health services. Without a sustained multisector response, cases of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera are likely to increase, with up to 76 000 additional cases across 15 governorates, including 15 200 severe cases requiring admission for cholera treatment.
As a result of the ongoing conflict, two thirds of Yemenis do not have access to clean water and sanitation services are limited, especially in cities, further increasing the risk of catching cholera. This is further aggravated by a decline in the national health system’s capacity to respond to the cholera outbreak due to critical shortages in resources. As of October 2016, only 45% of all health facilities in Yemen remain functional due to shortages in health staff, medicines and medical supplies.
With the overall goal of reducing mortality and morbidity related to acute watery diarrhoea/cholera, health cluster partners aim to reach 3.8 million at-risk people through:
- Strengthening surveillance system;
- Providing access to health care services;
- Providing support for central public health laboratories; and
- Improving knowledge of people at risk.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, WHO has provided 10 diarrhoeal disease kits for Sana’a, Al-Baidha, Aden, Taiz, and Al-Hudaydah governorates, sufficient to meet the needs of approximately 1000 patients with severe acute watery diarrhoea/cholera and 4000 mild cases of acute watery diarrhoea. WHO has also distributed chlorine tablets to disinfect water sufficient to meet the needs of 23 000 households for one month.
To strengthen surveillance case detection and response to the current outbreak, WHO has trained epidemiological and laboratory surveillance coordinators in 16 out of Yemen’s 23 governorates on notification, reporting, control and prevention of cholera. Ongoing efforts by WHO and partners to respond to the outbreak must be urgently scaled up to respond to the outbreak, and this is only possible if additional funding is available.