SHAFAQNA – The World Health Organization (WHO) says the death toll of a cholera epidemic in Yemen has passed 470, as the impoverished Arab country continues to be targeted by military aggression launched by its northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia.
According to the latest figures released by the United Nations health agency on Monday, at least 471 people have lost their lives after contracting the acute intestinal infection.
WHO’s latest bulletin, which has covered the period from April 27, however, added that there was a “significant decrease” in the average number of positive cases recorded on a daily basis in the week up to May 27 compared to the previous seven-day period.
“The average daily number of cases recorded between May 21-27 was 2,529 – down from 3,025 in the previous seven days,” it said.
Caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, cholera infection first became epidemic last October and spread until December, when it dwindled, but only to worryingly resurface again at the end of April.
The WHO’s Yemen coordinator, Omar Saleh, added in the bulletin that toward the end of the current month, some 38,000 cases had been recorded, saying “the epidemic is very serious and spreading in an unprecedented manner.”
He further noted that the total number of suspected cholera-hit cases stood at 51,832.
The country’s Health Ministry has already announced that 19 of 22 of Yemen’s provinces are threatened by the disease. On May 14, it also declared a state of emergency in the capital Sana’a in connection with the epidemic.
Since March 2015, Yemen has been heavily bombarded by Saudi warplanes as part of a brutal campaign against the impoverished country in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The relentless airstrikes have put more than half of all health facilities in Yemen in a state of complete or partial shutdown. Furthermore, there are critical shortages in medical staff in over 40 percent of all districts, according to the Health Ministry.
Nearly 3.3 million Yemeni people, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition. Latest tallies show that the war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more.
Some 19 million out of the country’s 28 million population are in dire need of humanitarian aid and many of whom are reported to be on the brink of famine.
International organizations, including the United Nations and the Red Cross, say the Saudi-led war on Yemen and an embargo against the country may be responsible for the cholera epidemic. The Saudi aggression has taken a heavy toll on the poor country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.