By Noora Jussila, IFRC

Almost two years of worsening conflict has left hospitals and health facilities across Yemen either severely damaged or in many cases out of action entirely. In addition to injuries caused by the fighting, there is a growing need for treatment and prevention of communicable diseases such as dengue fever and cholera.

The recent cholera outbreak, which started in October 2016, has resulted in more than 15,600 suspected cholera cases and 99 suspected deaths. Yemen Red Crescent Society has been responding the outbreak by raising awareness of the prevention, symptoms and treatment of the disease in at-risk-communities and by providing them with clean drinking water and hygiene kits.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection that can lead to death if left untreated. Mild cases of cholera can be treated with oral rehydration solution, and severe cases with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Proper water and sanitation infrastructure, good food hygiene and oral vaccinations are essential for prevention of cholera.

In January 2017, Yemen Red Crescent Society kicked off an awareness raising campaign about cholera. Over a two week period, the Red Crescent organized over 200 awareness raising sessions at schools and community centres. With these sessions, Yemen Red Crescent Society reached out to 21,500 Yemenis, who will further spread the information in their communities.

Yemen Red Crescent Society has also produced 10,000 leaflets about the prevention and treatment of cholera and distributed these to all of the governorates. When having these session with women, the Red Crescent volunteers also discussed issues of reproductive health, importance of breastfeeding, nutrition and personal hygiene.

“Children and women are especially vulnerable to cholera and Yemen Red Crescent Society is doing its best to stop cholera from spreading and educating people to take better care of their health to avoid further deaths,” said Pitambar Aryal, head of the IFRC’s Yemen country office.

“Yemen is currently facing multiple emergencies and the international community needs to ensure sufficient funding for aid operations,” Aryal continued.

Yemen was considered as one of poorest countries in the whole world even before the current conflict. Now an estimated 18.8 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Yemen Red Crescent Society cholera response is supported by the Danish, German and Norwegian Red Cross societies. Danish and German Red Cross societies have supported distribution of clean drinking water for vulnerable population. German Red Cross has also supported treatment of cholera patients in Taiz and Hajja in the Yemen Red Crescent Society hospitals and provided 12,000 rapid tests for testing cholera and 5,000 hygiene kits. Norwegian Red Cross has supported hygiene kits and awareness raising sessions.

In addition, the IFRC has provided 3,350 hygiene kits and helps to secure clean drinking water for 47,500 people by water trucking. The Yemen Red Crescent Society is supported by the British, Norwegian and Swedish Red Cross and Saudi Red Crescent Authority through the IFRC.

Yemen Red Crescent Society has mobilized its volunteers in Aden, Ammran, Damar, Lahhaj, Sana’a, Sayoun, Shabwah and Taiz branches to take part in cholera awareness raising.