Sab'een Hospital in Sana'a, Yemen - Photo credit UNICEF - Alzekri
CAIRO – 12 July 2017: The United Nations (UN) warned on Tuesday that unless $200 million is secured to address the cholera outbreak in Yemen, humanitarian agencies will be forced to re-appropriate resources from food security (in the country already facing famine) to cholera.
Humanitarian agencies are facing considerable challenges in terms of the cholera response, as they do not have enough resources to expand their operations into areas where health workers were already working without pay. According to the UN, the organization has received only one-third of the $2.1 billion secured to provide food to the millions people facing famine in Yemen. Furthermore, it has only received $47 million out of $250 million funding required for addressing cholera.
According to figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are 313,538 suspected cases of cholera and 1,732 deaths in Yemen. Of the suspected cases it is estimated that 40 percent of them, in addition to a quarter of the reported deaths, were among children under the age of 15; those malnourished being at greater risk. Older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions were among the greatest risk for death. Christophe Bouierac, a spokesperson for the UN Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) described the cholera outbreak in Yemen as the worst outbreak in the world.
Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for Yemen, said to journalists in Geneva on Tuesday, “This unprecedented cholera epidemic would further weaken the resources, and the resilience that people had had over the last two and a half years of this war,” he added, “All of this is entirely man-made, as a result of the conflict.”
McGoldrick, noted that in light of famine, complete collapse of the social-political systems and the cholera outbreak in Yemen approximately two million additional people have been added to the humanitarian case load since the start of 2017.
“The actual system is in complete collapse…Agencies have had to use resources which they had programmed otherwise, for example for food security or malnutrition,” Remarked McGoldrick.
Yemen Humanitarian Snapshot – Update on Cholera outbreak and response, July 2017 – UNOCHA
In addition to an already staggering situation, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly considering shelving cholera vaccines and not shipping them out to Yemen.
WHO spokesperson, Christian Lindmeier, said to journalists in Geneva, “A vaccination way ahead of an outbreak would be useful, but that would imply a huge amount of vaccines, taking into account all the countries where cholera was endemic.”