New York, Geneva- Cholera is believed to have affected more than half a million people and killed 1,975 since late April, the World Health Organization said Monday.
Suspected cases of the deadly waterborne disease continue to rage across the country, infecting an estimated 5,000 people per day, a WHO overview showed.
“The total number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen this year hit the half a million mark on Sunday, and nearly 2,000 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April,” the organziation said in a statement.
“The spread of cholera has slowed significantly in some areas compared to peak levels but the disease is still spreading fast in more recently affected districts, which are recording large numbers of cases.”
Yemen’s cholera epidemic, currently the largest in the world, has spread rapidly due to deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions and disruptions to the water supply across the country. Millions of people are cut off from clean water, and waste collection has ceased in major cities.
A collapsing health system is struggling to cope, with more than half of all health facilities closed due to damage, destruction or lack of funds. Shortages in medicines and supplies are persistent and widespread and 30,000 critical health workers have not been paid salaries in nearly a year.
The “doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response – without them we can do nothing in Yemen. They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The organization says that it is working with its partners around the clock to set up cholera treatment clinics, rehabilitate health facilities, deliver medical supplies, and support the national health response effort.
Dr. Tedros urged all the parties involved in the crisis to find a political solution to the conflict. “The people of Yemen cannot bear it much longer – they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country,” he said.
More than 99 percent of people sick with suspected cholera who can access health services are surviving. Furthermore, nearly 15 million people are unable to get basic healthcare.