War-torn Yemen to get cholera vaccines as death toll mounts

June 21, 2017 | By | Reply More

The U.N. health agency and some major partners have agreed to send 1 million doses of cholera vaccine to Yemen to help stanch a spiraling and increasingly deadly caseload in the impoverished country, which is already facing war and the risk of famine.

cholera vaccinesA spokesman for the World Health Organization said Wednesday that it didn’t initially want to publicize last week’s decision because questions remain about when and how the doses could reach the neediest people in a country sliced up along front lines and grappling with a nearly-collapsed health system.

WHO said the 1 million doses for Yemen were approved on June 15 by the International Coordinating Group, which manages vaccine stocks and includes the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance along with WHO.

In just over two years, violence from Yemen’s war involving Shiite rebels known as Houthis and the internationally recognized government backed by a Saudi-led alliance has killed over 10,000 civilians. Now, in just over two months, the cholera outbreak has taken over 1,100 lives and the caseload is rising, with peak levels unpredictable, WHO says.

Vaccines will be but part of a complex response effort.

“The fact that over a thousand people have died during this rapidly spreading cholera outbreak is shocking,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, in an e-mail.

Berkley said the doses could help slow the spread of the disease as part of a broader strategy to contain it.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Tuesday that a tally from the cholera outbreak between April 27 and June 19 turned up 170,286 suspected cases and 1,170 deaths. He said the agency and UNICEF, which has a key role in sending water to needy populations, are “refining their approach by focusing on the worst-affected areas in the worst-affected districts.”

“To stop the spread, it is vital that people have access to safe drinking water, oral rehydration solutions and effective treatment such as antibiotics and intravenous fluids for those severely affected,” he said in an e-mail.

Jasarevic said about 2,000 new cases were appearing each day, though the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Wednesday put the figure at 6,000. A week ago, the U.N. humanitarian chief in Yemen said 923 people had died of the disease and warned the caseload could reach nearly a quarter-million cases by September.

A WHO map of the outbreaks from its latest “situation report” on Yemen show the highest concentrations in urban areas and in western Yemen where fighting and the front lines divvy up control of the territory.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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