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Fighting the spread of cholera in Yemen

May 02, 2019

A rural nomadic village seen near the Al-Mazraq IDP camps, Al-Mazraq, YemenIn Yemen, more than 164,000 suspected cases of cholera were reported during the first three months of 2019. Children younger than five comprise nearly one-third of the cases, with more than 1,000 a day being infected in the last few weeks alone. With the rainy season approaching, there is growing urgency to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease.

To help address this acute need, FHI 360’s Integrated Humanitarian Assistance to Yemen project provides critical water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support to three primary health care facilities in the west coast districts of Dhubab, Al Mokha and Al Khawkhah, where the incidence of cholera is high.

Working closely with local health facility staff, we introduced new methods of waste water and solid waste disposal to the Al Ghaded Health Center and the Al Mokha and Al Khawkhah Maternal and Child Health Centers. We also improved the centers’ water and sanitation infrastructure by rehabilitating sinks, toilets and bathing facilities. Other important preventive measures include monitoring the quality of the water at each health center and providing chlorinated water when needed.

While these facilities have not yet experienced an increased number of cholera cases, contingency planning is underway and would include the establishment of diarrhea treatment centers and oral rehydration points for the management of mild and moderate cases.

We also trained staff at the Al Mokha and Al Khawkhah health facilities to use a new cholera self-assessment tool, developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The tool helps to determine if health facilities are equipped to respond effectively to a cholera outbreak. Cholera preparedness is the first step in ensuring early detection and timely treatment.

Photo credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images