A child with severe diarrhoea or cholera receives treatment at the Sab'een Hospital in Sana'a, Yemen,on 12 May 2017. Credit:UNICEF/Alzekri
Yemen is in the grip of a severe cholera epidemic on an unprecedented scale. The disease has spread across 19 governorates, and more than 96,200 suspected cholera cases and 746 deaths have been reported since 27 April.
The epidemic is a manifestation of the dire humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. More than half of all health facilities no longer function due to the conflict, and 6.8 million people are already at risk of famine. Health and sanitation workers have not been paid for more than eight months; only 30 per cent of required medical supplies are being imported into the country; garbage collection in the cities is irregular; and more than 8 million people lack access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation.
The risk of the epidemic spreading further and affecting thousands more people is compounded by the rainy season, widespread food insecurity and malnutrition. Millions of people are now at greater risk of death, as they face the “triple threat” of conflict, famine and cholera, particularly in the 95 most-affected districts.
Despite funding challenges, humanitarian partners are sparing no efforts to deliver a coordinated response at the national, governorate and community levels, and between UN, INGOs, local partners, relevant public institutions and local authorities.
Health and WASH cluster partners have reprogrammed existing funding, and the Humanitarian Coordinator has released US$10 million from the Yemen Humanitarian Fund.
But this is not enough. To date, the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 24 per cent funded, with the crucial Health and WASH clusters funded at only 13 and 12 per cent respectively.