A million children in Yemen at risk of cholera, says Save the Children

By agency reporter
August 3, 2017

More than a million children suffering from acute malnutrition are caught in areas of Yemen hardest hit by a deadly outbreak of cholera, Save the Children is warning. The charity’s new analysis of district level data reveals more than 1,000,000 acutely malnourished children under the age of 5 – including almost 200,000 with severe acute malnutrition – are living in areas with high levels of infection.

Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children's Country Director for Yemen, said, “After two years of armed conflict, children are trapped in a brutal cycle of starvation and sickness. And it's simply unacceptable. Our teams are dealing with a horrific scenario of babies and young children who are not only malnourished but also infected with cholera.

“The tragedy is both malnutrition and cholera are easily treatable if you have access to basic healthcare. But hospitals and clinics have been destroyed, government health workers haven't been paid for almost a year, and the delivery of vital aid is being obstructed.  We and others are saving lives where we can and with what we have – but we urgently need more help. Children must not pay for this conflict with their lives.”

Malnourished children have substantially reduced immune systems and are at least three times more likely to die if they contract cholera.  Diarrhoeal diseases like cholera are also themselves a leading cause of malnutrition – raising fears that even if children survive the outbreak they could be pushed further towards starvation. 

Save the Children is scaling up its response and sending more health experts to the worst hit areas, including Al Hali District in Hodeidah, which has the country’s highest number of suspected cholera cases.  The district also has an estimated 31,000 children in need of treatment for acute malnutrition, or more than a quarter of children under the age of five.

More than 425,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported across Yemen, with 1,900 deaths. Children under the age of 15 make up an increasing proportion of both new cases (44%) and fatalities (32%).  Save the Children currently operates 14 cholera treatment centres and more than 90 rehydration units across the country, with 160 tonnes of additional cholera treatment supplies en route to Yemen.

* Save the Children http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/


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