UN distributes life-saving medicine as cholera outbreak grips Yemen

UN distributes life-saving medicine as cholera outbreak grips Yemen
A huge delivery of oral rehydration salts and water purification tablets has arrived in Yemen to treat the 'worst cholera outbreak in the world'.
2 min read
29 June, 2017

The United Nations has delivered nearly 40 tons of emergency aid to Yemen in the last week, as the country's cholera crisis continues to spread across the war-torn country.

The UN's children's agency, UNICEF, reported on Thursday the delivery of enough Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) to treat 10,000 people, in addition to 10.5 million water purification tablets and other sanitation items.

"We are in a race against time," said Dr Sherin Varkey, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Yemen.

"Our teams are working with partners not only to provide treatment to the sick and raise awareness among communities, but also to rapidly replenish and distribute supplies and medicines."

On Saturday, the UN called the epidemic the "worst cholera outbreak in the world".

More than 1,300 people have reportedly died from the water-borne disease since the outbreak began last year - one quarter of them children.

The outbreak has been compounded by the Saudi-led coalition's continuous bombing missions against the country's infrastructure, causing internally displaced persons (IDPs) to resort to drinking from unclean water sources.

The UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien, called the cholera outbreak in Yemen, which has affected around 300,000 people, a "man-made catastrophe".

"This is because of conflict, it's man-made, it's very severe, the numbers are absolutely staggering, it's getting worse, and the cholera element in addition to the lack of food, the lack of medical supplies, primarily one has to put that at the door of all the parties to the conflict," O'Brien said.

The government has not paid any official salaries to those responsible for fighting the disease - including doctors, nurses, water engineers or rubbish collectors - for nearly ten months.

The continuous bombing campaign against health centres, coupled with this lack of salaries has caused a severe shortage in the numbers of health workers in the country.