In 1854, Dr. John Snow interlinked Cholera with contaminated water. One would think that in the 21st century this disease would be close to eradication. But it isn’t so.
In June 2017, the United Nations declared that Yemen is facing the “world’s worst cholera outbreak.” Clearly, the disease is, in no way, under control.
CHOLERA IN YEMEN
Cholera is an infectious disease characterised by vomiting, muscular cramps, and watery diarrhoea leading to severe dehydration. It is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae.
A person can contract the disease by ingesting contaminated food or drinking water. Usually, it is the faeces of the infected persons that causes large outbreaks, as in the case of Yemen. Places that lack adequate water treatment and have poor sanitation systems are more vulnerable to these outbreaks.
According to WHO, Yemen is experiencing an outbreak of cholera that is of “unprecedented scale.” Over 940,000 people have been infected since April 2017 and almost 2,200 people have died. It is estimated that more than 5,ooo people exhibit symptoms or contract cholera on a daily basis. In all the collected data, it was observed that seniors over the age of 60 constitute one-third of such deaths. While children under the age of 15% make up 40% of such cases.
Worrisome as this condition may be, WHO has been unable to administer the vaccine for cholera since the vaccine is preventive in nature. Very few regions remain unaffected by the epidemic and thus, it would be futile.
The situation is grave due to the Civil War that has led to the collapse of public services. The war-torn country’s infrastructure is bombed out. The air strikes have destroyed almost half of the country’s medical facilities. As per WHO’s reports, around 15 million people are stranded without access to clean water and sanitation. And a similar appreciable number is deprived of basic health care. Apart from just that, there is a severe shortage of doctors and healthcare staff.