EXPLORE: How Yemen's cholera outbreak spread to a half-million people

Women sit with relatives infected with cholera at a hospital.   Thomson Reuters

"The people of Yemen can not bear it much longer - they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country", said Dr. Tedros. It's now the worst active cholera epidemic in the world, and one of the largest in decades.

The total number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen this year hit the half a million mark on Sunday, and almost 2000 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April.

Yemen is one of the Arab world's poorest countries and has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

Responding to the World Health Organization announcement, Katy Wright, head of advocacy for Oxfam, called the cholera epidemic a "man-made disaster driven by national and global politics". "Nearly 2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished".

Some of those infected by the bacterial disease either exhibit no or slight symptoms.

Even though the disease can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution, access to safe water and sanitation also play a vital role to control the transmission of the disease.

"These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response - without them we can do nothing in Yemen".

Half a million people have been infected with the deadly disease as refuse services have all but stopped and water is unsafe to drink in war-struck Yemen. Yemen's crumbling health system is also overwhelmed by the scale of the epidemic; according to WHO, some 30,000 critical health providers have not been paid salaries for nearly year.

In order to address the current crisis in Yemen, Tedros is calling for support to the nation's health system, particularly to the health workers.

Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which attacks the intestine. "The health workers in Yemen are working in impossible conditions, said the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a press release". Wright even blamed the United Kingdom and the US for sparking the armed conflicts in the Arab nation by giving intelligence and weaponry to Saudi Arabia, saying the two superpower nations are "complicit in the suffering of millions" of Yemenis, Common Dreams reported.

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