LONDON: The World Health Organization (WHO) has thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy prime minister and minister of defense, for his donation of $66.7 million to stop the spread of cholera in Yemen.
In response to an urgent call for funding, the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) in Saudi Arabia announced the donation to UNICEF, WHO and their partners.
The money will be used to respond to a cholera outbreak in Yemen.
The response will center on a combination of water, sanitation and health care activities, which officials say will help save the lives of thousands of Yemenis at risk of being affected by the ongoing crisis.
“On behalf of the WHO Regional Office I extend deep thanks and appreciation to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, deputy prime minister and minister of defense, for his noble initiative in the humanitarian field, to support efforts which aim to alleviate suffering, (and) provide relief through working to contain cholera and prevent its complications in Yemen,” said Mahmoud Fikri, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
The funding will be put to immediate use, according to KSRelief, which will work with UNICEF, WHO and its partners to activate the new initiative.
Recently, the UN health agency said there are now more than 200,000 suspected cases of cholera, many of them children.
UNICEF Director Anthony Lake and WHO Chief Margaret Chan said in a statement, “we are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world,” with an average of 5,000 new cases every day.
The agencies say that more than 1,300 people have died — one quarter of them children — and the death toll is expected to rise.
A cholera outbreak will probably have infected more than 300,000 people by September, the UN said.
Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water.
Although the disease is easily treatable, doing so in conflict-torn Yemen has proved particularly difficult.
UN reports indicate that almost 19 million people — more than two-thirds of Yemen’s total population — are in need of humanitarian assistance, and that 14.5 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation.