Yemen: One million malnourished children at risk of cholera

Yemen: One million malnourished children at risk of cholera

More than a million children are suffering from malnutrition amid a deadly cholera outbreak in Yemen, says Save the Children.

The charity says new analysis of district level data reveals there are more than one million acutely malnourished children under the age of five living in areas with high levels of infection.

Millions are starving in Yemen after two years of conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels, which has caused food shortages and widespread internal displacement.

Malnutrition substantially reduces children’s immune systems leaving than at least three times more likely to die if they contract cholera.

Diarrhoeal diseases like cholera are also a leading cause of malnutrition, leading to fears children may starve even if they survive the disease.

One of the worst affected areas by the recent cholera outbreak is the Al Hali district in the city of Hodeidah in west Yemen.

The area has the country’s highest number of suspected cholera cases.

A mother called Lamia who attended one of the charity’s malnutrition centre’s said she had already lost two children due to the disease.

One of her other children, a 10-month-old baby girl called Arwa, is now severely malnourished.

“Arwa is better than before, she used to not be able to move her hands and her legs were skinnier than this,” Lamia said.

“But she is lucky, two of my children died. One died when he was just two and a half months old, he had very bad diarrhoea.”

More than 425,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported across Yemen since the end of April, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO said there had been 1,900 reported deaths from the disease over the same period.

“After two years of armed conflict, children are trapped in a brutal cycle of starvation and sickness. And it’s simply unacceptable,” said Save the Children’s country director for Yemen, Tamer Kirolos.

“The tragedy is both malnutrition and cholera are easily treatable if you have access to basic healthcare,” he added.

“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.”

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the war began in March 2015 and millions of others displaced.

In May this year it was estimated that 17 million people are at imminent risk of famine in the country.

 

Skynews