23:44 GMT +320 November 2019
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    Yemenis suspected of being infected with cholera receive treatment at a hospital in Sanaa on May 6, 2017

    Yemen 'Cannot Cope' With Cholera Outbreak Without International Help

    © AFP 2019 / Mohammed HUWAIS
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    A state of emergency has been declared in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, due to a deadly outbreak of cholera.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that the disease killed at least 115 people and left more than 8,000 others infected across the country between April 27 and May 13.

    According to the World Health Organization, Sanaa has been worst hit, but last week more than 2,000 suspected cases of the disease were reported in 10 governorates.

    Ralph El Hage, Regional Spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Yemen, told Radio Sputnik that he finds the situation "extremely worrying."

    "We have seen around 400 to 500 cases being admitted to hospitals every day. The facts on the ground are that the health system in Yemen is already weak due to the ongoing armed conflict, the health facilities are already operating on overcapacity," he said.

    "A few days ago with the [Red Cross] director of operations we visited two hospitals in Sanaa, and [with] the amount of patients that were in the ER… there isn't a place for any type of any other injury or disease at the moment. Most of the hospitals in the city have been transformed or are in the process of being transformed into cholera centers."

    The country's health ministry said in a statement that the outbreak had worsened to the scale that is "beyond the capacity" of the department. The influx of patients is too much for the less than a half of existing health facilities that are still functioning in the war-torn country.

    The ministry has launched an appeal for help from international humanitarian organizations to deal with the crisis.

    "The situation as it stands right now requires a lot of assistance from national humanitarian organizations…" El Hage said, adding that it is most important to tackle the core problem of the disease, which is that it is being spread mainly through drinking contaminated water.

    "Today we have three million people in Yemen, due to the armed conflict, living in bad hygiene situations, most probably drinking not so clean water. This is extremely worrying, because if the outbreak continues, we will see more and more cases on the rise, and the health system cannot cope without the proper assistance of the humanitarian organizations."

    The current outbreak of the bacterial infection in Yemen is the second episode in less than a year. The country is currently mired in a devastating war between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels.

    The World Health Organization now classifies Yemen as one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in the world.    


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