TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Yemen is grappling with the world's worst cholera outbreak amid the world's largest humanitarian crisis and crippling health, water and sanitation facilities in the Arab country, the United Nations warned.
“The country is on the brink of famine, with over 60 per cent of the population not knowing where their next meal will come from,” said UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake, World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a joint statement, the official website of the UN reported.
Wrapping up their joint visit to the crisis-torn nation, the agency chiefs pointed out that nearly two million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished, and “malnutrition makes them more susceptible to cholera; diseases create more malnutrition… a vicious combination.”
Together in Yemen they witnessed the scale of the humanitarian crisis, observing that over the last three months, 400,000 cases of suspected cholera and nearly 1,900 associated deaths have been recorded.
“At one hospital, we visited children who can barely gather the strength to breathe. We spoke with families overcome with sorrow for their ill loved ones and struggling to feed their families,” they lamented, adding that as they drove through the city, “we saw how vital infrastructure, such as health and water facilities, have been damaged or destroyed.”
Amid the chaos, some 16,000 volunteers go from house to house, educating families on how to protect themselves from diarrhea and cholera while doctors, nurses and other health staff work around the clock to save lives.
Stressing that in spite of not having been paid for over 10 months, many of the 30,000 health workers continue their work, the senior UN officials said they have asked the authorities to pay them.
“As for our agencies, we will do our best to support these extremely dedicated health workers with incentives and stipends,” they said.
“We also saw the vital work being done by local authorities and NGOs (non-governmental organization), supported by international humanitarian agencies, including our own. We have set up more than 1,000 diarrhea treatment centers and oral rehydration corners,” they noted.
The UN agency heads underscored that the delivery of food supplements and medical supplies is ongoing, as is the rebuilding of infrastructure, including hospitals, health centers and the water- sanitation network.
“We are working with the World Bank in an innovative partnership that responds to needs on the ground and helps maintain the local health institutions,” they continued.
While the UN officials also offered hope – noting that more than 99 percent of cholera-infected people with access to health services are surviving and the number of children afflicted with severe acute malnutrition this year was estimated to be 385,000 – they maintained that as thousands fall sick every day, the situation remains dire.
They noted that nearly 80 percent of Yemen's children need immediate humanitarian assistance, underlining the importance of sustained efforts to stop the spread of disease.
Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by the coalition led by the Saudi regime for nearly 27 months but Riyadh has reached none of its objectives in Yemen so far.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been launching deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to the fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
Nearly 10,000 Yemenis, including 4,000 women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly military campaign.