Since the civil war in Yemen began almost two years ago it has claimed over 10,000 lives and has left millions destitute and at risk for the disease. The disease, which has seized the nation, is Cholera and the numbers are staggering. One in 62 Yemenis is estimated to be sick with Cholera. There have been over 436,000 cases since the war began and in May and June of 2017 alone, there were more cases of Cholera in Yemen than in the entire world during 2015.
This catastrophic number leads one to ask the question “why?” Cholera is an easily preventable and treatable disease. The answer is clean water is in short supply in Yemen. Cholera is spread through water contaminated by feces and garbage. The ongoing war in Yemen has greatly deteriorated the country’s water infrastructure leading to mass supplies of water being contaminated by piling rubbish and feces that have not been properly removed. The Red Cross has ordered tons of chlorine from neighboring countries to help treat the contaminated water. However, to get the chlorine to the areas that need it most, aid workers must cross conflict zones. There are dozens of checkpoints throughout the country and what was once a simple 20-minute trip can take up to six hours to get through. This leads many Yemeni to travel hours to major cities seeking treatment for their infected family members. Some may return home too late to save their loved ones.
Nearly 15 million Yemenis do not have access to healthcare and this in part, is leading to the massive outbreak of Cholera in rural areas. Also contributing to the Cholera outbreak is the fact that most aid workers and medical staff have not been paid. Division among the Saudi-led coalition, which was sparked by reports that Yemen’s president has been supportive of an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood has led to a cut off of cash being sent to Yemen. Cash, which pays for medical staff.
The Red Cross has stated the Cholera epidemic in Yemen is directly caused by the ongoing civil war. 50 percent of Yemen’s health facilities have been bombed by the coalition, further hindering aid workers efforts to control the outbreak. There is no salvation in sight for Yemen and with the rainy season ahead there will be little health care workers can do to stave off another influx of cholera.