WHO launches second cholera vaccine drive in Yemen as cases surge

A young Yemeni at Al-Waara camp in Hodeidah governorate, where WHO is carrying out Cholera vaccinations. (AFP)
Updated 02 October 2018

WHO launches second cholera vaccine drive in Yemen as cases surge

GENEVA: The World Health Organization said Tuesday it was helping Yemeni authorities with a second round of vaccination against cholera in three hard-hit districts, as cases surged across the war-ravaged country.
More than 2,500 people have died of the waterborne infection since the worst cholera outbreak in Yemen’s history began in April 2017, while nearly one million more suspected cases have been reported across the country.
Children under the age of five make up nearly a third of all suspected cases.
Yemen’s cholera epidemic had seemed to lull for a while, but WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic warned of a new escalation.
“We have been seeing the number of cholera cases increasing in Yemen since June, and this increase has been even more important in the last three weeks,” he told reporters in Geneva.
During the first eight months of the year, Yemen registered nearly 155,000 suspected cholera cases, including 197 deaths.
But in the last week of August alone, 9,425 suspected cholera cases were recorded across the country, and just a week later, the number of suspected cases recorded soared to 11,478, WHO said.
WHO has warned Yemen faces a third cholera epidemic as autumn rains have increased the risk of infection after already being hit by two major cholera outbreaks in less than two years.
In a bid to prevent a “third wave,” WHO, UNICEF and other partners began helping the government on September 30 to provide a second dose of the two-dose oral vaccination in three of the most vulnerable districts, he said.
In August, nearly 390,000 out of the more than 500,000 people targeted in Al-Hali and Al-Marawiah districts in Hodeidah governorate and in Hazm Al-Udayn in Ibb governorate received the first dose.
The three districts “were assessed to be most vulnerable to an escalation of cholera,” Jasarevic said.
He said the same population would be targeted again, with the aim to vaccinate 540,000 people. Those who did not receive a first dose in August will need to get another dose down the line.
Cholera, which causes potentially deadly diarrhea, is contracted by ingesting food or water contaminated with a bacterium carried in human faeces and spread through poor sanitation and dirty drinking water.
Left untreated, it can kill within hours.
Yemen’s brutal conflict, which since 2015 has left some 10,000 people dead and eight million on the brink of famine, has created the perfect environment for cholera to thrive.
Save The Children warned Tuesday that Hodeida, the Yemeni port city on the front line between a pro-government alliance and Iran-backed Houthi militia, had seen cases nearly triple in the past three months alone.


Sudan flood death toll reaches 62: state media

Updated 41 min 41 sec ago

Sudan flood death toll reaches 62: state media

  • Sudan has been hit by torrential rains since the start of July
  • Nearly 200,000 people in at least 15 states across the country have been affected

KHARTOUM: Heavy rainfall and flash floods have killed 62 people in Sudan and left 98 others injured, the official SUNA news agency reported on Sunday.
Sudan has been hit by torrential rains since the start of July, affecting nearly 200,000 people in at least 15 states across the country including the capital Khartoum.
The worst affected area is the White Nile state in the south.
Flooding of the Nile river remains "the biggest problem", SUNA said, citing a health ministry official.
On Friday the United Nations said 54 people had died due to the heavy rains.
It said more than 37,000 homes had been destroyed or damaged, quoting figures from the government body it partners with in the crisis response.
"Humanitarians are concerned by the high likelihood of more flash floods," the UN said, adding that the rainy season was expected to last until October.
The floods are having a lasting humanitarian impact on communities, with cut roads, damaged water points, lost livestock and the spread of water-borne diseases by insects.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said an extra $150 million were needed from donors to respond to surging waters, in addition to the $1.1 billion required for the overall humanitarian situation in Sudan.