The cholera outbreak in Yemen is escalating at an alarming rate, with experts warning that a child is now infected with the disease every 35 seconds, according to Save the Children.
The rate of infection has more than tripled over the past two weeks, and 46% of the estimated 5,470 new daily cases of suspected cholera/acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) are children under 15 years.
The infectious disease, which is spread via contaminated food and water, can prove fatal if not treated quickly, and is already killing around 30 people each day.
Dr Mariam, a doctor working in Hodeida on Save the Children’s cholera response, said the situation was critical.
“You can see the fear in the eyes of the mothers, they are afraid to lose their children, their husbands, their relatives,” she told MEE.
More than 2 million children under the age of five in Yemen are acutely malnourished. Damage to infrastructure caused by two years of intense conflict means 14.5 million people, including nearly 8 million children, do not have access to clean water and sanitation.
Yemen’s crippled infrastructure, food insecurity, failing economy and the ongoing war, mean many are unable to seek out help in time, with hospitals overwhelmed and short of supplies. The situation is particularly bad in more remote parts of the country with little or no access to health services. War, near-famine conditions and a complete breakdown in basic social services, including affordable transportation and access to clean water, are making the outbreak worse.
Many thousands more cholera-related deaths are expected, Save the Children says, with 300,000 new cases predicted in the coming months.