Cholera has killed at least 115 people in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the local Saba news agency said, after authorities on Sunday declared a state of emergency over the outbreak and called for international help to avert disaster.
Sanaa is controlled by the armed Houthi movement, which is aligned with Iran and fighting a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition. More than 10,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in more than two years of war, which has also destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, reports Reuters.
Only a few medical facilities are still functioning and two-thirds of the population are without access to safe drinking water, the United Nations has said.
A nurse attends to a boy infected with cholera at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen
“What is happening today exceeds the capabilities of any healthy health system, so how can we (cope) when we are in these difficult and complicated conditions,” Saba quoted the Houthi-run administration’s health minister Mohammed Salem bin Hafeedh as saying.
The ministry, after meeting in Sanaa with U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick and other international officials, called on humanitarian organizations and aid donors to help it avert an “unprecedented disaster”.
It declared a “state of health emergency in the capital,” the agency said.
Saba said 8,595 suspected cholera cases were recorded in Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces between April 27 and May 13, while laboratory-confirmed cases were 213. The acute diarrhoeal disease, which can be fatal within hours if left untreated, has killed 115 people, the agency said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier put the death toll at 51. It has also said that 7.6 million people in Yemen live in areas at high risk of cholera transmission. A cholera epidemic late last year petered out but outbreaks are becoming more frequent.
Sanaa has been worst hit, followed by the surrounding province of Amanat al-Semah, WHO data has shown. Cases have also been reported in other major cities including Hodeidah, Taiz and Aden.
Some 17 million of Yemen’s 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in “grave peril”, the U.N. has also said.