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Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Yemen cholera cases pass 300,000 as outbreak spirals: ICRC
A cholera outbreak in Yemen has now surpassed 300,000 suspected cases, the Red Cross said, outpacing by more than a month the projection made by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of June.
As the war-torn country reels from the disease and the threat of famine, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the cholera epidemic "continues to spiral out of control" since it erupted in April.
"Today, over 300,000 people are suspected to be ill," it said in a Twitter post.
ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said the death toll now stood at more than 1,700, up by 200 cases from the death toll reported by the WHO on July 1. ICRC regional director Robert Mardini said about 7,000 new cholera cases were being recorded daily in the capital Sanaa and three other areas.
The WHO had said there were 297,438 suspected cases and 1,706 deaths by July 7. It had earlier predicted that 300,000 people could be infected by the end of August.
The collapse of Yemen's infrastructure after more than two years of war between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels who control Sanaa has made for a "perfect storm for cholera", according to the WHO.
Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water.
Although the disease is easily treatable, doing so in Yemen has proved particularly difficult. The war has left less than half of the country's medical facilities functional.
Jamie McGoldrick, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said much of the $1.1bn in aid pledged by donor governments in April to deal with the hard-pressed population's needs had yet to be disbursed, leaving relief agencies struggling to get their hands on new money.
"Humanitarian organisations have had to re-programme their resources away from malnutrition and reuse them to control the cholera outbreak," he said in Sanaa on Thursday.
"And if we don't get these resources replaced, then using those resources for cholera will mean that food insecurity will suffer."
About 17 million people - two-thirds of Yemen's population - are uncertain of where their next meal will come from, according to the World Food Programme.