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Cholera Outbreak In Yemen Hits 1 Million: Why Can't The Epidemic Be Stopped?

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The cholera outbreak in Yemen has infected over 1 million people, making it the worst cholera epidemic in history.

Cholera can be treated with modern medicine, so why is the disease spreading so rapidly in Yemen?

The Cholera Outbreak In Yemen

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arabian Peninsula, is caught in the middle of a proxy war between the Iran-allied Houthi armed movement and the U.S.-supported military coalition that is led by Saudi Arabia.

According to the United Nations, Yemen is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 8 million citizens on the edge of famine. The war has resulted in over 80 percent of the population struggling to acquire food, clean water, proper healthcare, and fuel.

Under the conditions, the cholera outbreak has grown to horrible proportions. The incidents of the waterborne disease started in October 2016 and flared up in April, claiming the lives of over 2,000 people. In June, over 200,000 people in the country were said to have been affected by the cholera epidemic. Six months after, that number has now risen to 1 million people, with a new wave of cholera expected in March or April next year.

With cholera hitting the 1 million mark for affected people in Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross tagged what was happening as "a hideous milestone in the 21st century."

Will Yemen Survive The Cholera Outbreak?

Cholera, which kills thousands of people around the world each year, is easily transmitted when people consume food or water that has been contaminated with Vibrio cholera, a type of fecal bacteria.

In the worst cases, cholera can kill a person within just hours. Modern medicine is very much capable of curing people infected with the disease, but the problem is that the drugs could not reach the patients due to Saudi forces imposing a blockade on Yemen's ports.

"It is a disgrace that in the 21st century, an easy-to-treat cholera could infect over a million people in one country," said Shane Stevenson, the Yemen director for the humanitarian agency Oxfam.

"This is the world's worst recorded outbreak, a man-made tragedy driven by more than a thousand days of a relentless and ruthless war," Stevenson added.

Another problem is the appearance of diphtheria, which is a disease that has not been seen in the country for the past 25 years but has now infected 312 people and took the lives of 35. Diphtheria does not spread as fast cholera, but an outbreak will affect many thousands right when there is a global shortage of anti-toxin against the disease.

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