Cholera kills thousands in war-ravaged Yemen

Cholera cases in Yemen hit half-million mark

Yemen's cholera epidemic, now the largest in the world, has spread rapidly due to deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions and disruptions to the water supply across the country.

Highlight: Oxfam says "In backing this war with billions of dollars of arms sales and military support, the United States and the UK are complicit in the suffering of millions of people in Yemen".

As Yemen faces this deadly waterborne disease epidemic, many may be asking what exactly cholera is. The collapse of Yemen's infrastructure after more than two years of war between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels supported by Iran has allowed the water-borne cholera epidemic to spread quickly: a total of 503,484 suspected cases and 1,975 deaths are attributable to the outbreak, officials say.

Millions of Yemenis are deprived of drinking water, which facilitates the spread of the epidemic. Making matters worse, waste collection has ground to a halt in most major cities. Annually, between 3 million and 5 million people are infected with cholera and the infection claims an estimated 100,000 lives every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shortages in medicines and supplies are persistent and widespread and 30 000 critical health workers have not been paid salaries in almost a year.

Unfortunately, the spread of the disease seems hard to control due to Yemen's deteriorating health and sanitation systems. "The health workers in Yemen are working in impossible conditions, said the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a press release". More than 99 percent of infected cholera patients survive when they're able to access health services, but for those with severe cholera, the fatality rate can reach 50 percent when left untreated.

The UN is supporting partners to set up cholera treatment clinics, rehabilitate health facilities, deliver medical supplies, and support national health response efforts.

This cholera outbreak is the largest now underway in the world. And we urge the Yemeni authorities - and all those in the region and elsewhere who can play a role - to find a political solution to this conflict that has already caused so much suffering. "The people of Yemen can not bear it much longer-they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country", said Tedros.

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