Geneva– Cholera cases in Yemen hit 400,000 on Tuesday, yet there are signs the epidemic is slowing, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.
Reuters reported that the number of people dying from cholera had a dramatic fall over the past month, from about 30 to less than 10 which reflects WHO’s successful strategy of setting up a network of re-hydration points for early treatment.
Cholera is spread by ingestion of contaminated food or water and can kill within hours if untreated.
The deaths figures indicate that 99.5 percent of patients now survive in Yemen, where a civil war and economic collapse left millions on the brink of starvation, according to Reuters.
President of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer visited Taiz on Tuesday and said: “We are confronted with the vicious circle where war destroys water distribution system, water is not available or contaminated and people are infecting themselves.”
He added that to cope with the crisis there is a need for fundamental change in attitude and behavior of the belligerents.
Latest WHO report showed 396,086 Yemenis were thought to have caught diarrhoeal disease by July 24, about 1 in 50 of the population with 1,869 associated deaths.
New cases are continuing at between 5,000 and 6,000 per day, but the epidemic curve peaked about three weeks ago, according to the WHO.
Usually, with such epidemics there are many cases after the peak as before, however, ICRC predicted that the number of people affected will have hit 600,000 people by the end of 2017.
The cholera outbreak has prompted the UN to revise its humanitarian assessment and it now calculates 20.7 million Yemenis are in need of assistance.
Cholera is also spreading in Somalia, Kenya, Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania and South Sudan, where WHO is about to start a vaccination campaign with 500,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine.
WHO reported that despite Yemen’s huge outbreak, the biggest in any country within a year, it has put off a vaccination campaign until 2018.
“A cholera vaccination campaign originally planned for July 2017 has been postponed at the request of the health authorities, in favor of a much larger preventive campaign next year targeting millions of Yemenis at risk of the disease,” a WHO statement said.