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Cholera Infection May Be on Edge in Yemen, says WHO

Yemen may be on edge of the deadly Cholera Epidemic, says World Health Organisation

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FILE - A Yemeni woman suspected of being infected with cholera receives treatment at a hospital in the capital Sanaa. VOA
FILE - A Yemeni woman suspected of being infected with cholera receives treatment at a hospital in the capital Sanaa. VOA
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The World Health Organization (WHO) warns Yemen may be on the verge of another cholera epidemic, which could be deadlier than previous ones because of widespread malnutrition in the war-torn country.

Yemen has had two major waves of cholera epidemics in recent years.

The World Health Organization reports that an increasing number of cases in several heavily populated areas over the past few weeks indicate the country may be on the cusp of a third major wave of this deadly disease.

WHO’s emergency response chief, Peter Salama, told VOA another cholera epidemic is likely to be more life-threatening than the previous ones because the population is seriously weakened after three years of civil war. Fighting has been raging between the government and rebel forces.

FILE - Public health workers spray insecticide amid fears of a new cholera outbreak in Sanaa, Yemen. VOA
FILE – Public health workers spray insecticide amid fears of a new cholera outbreak in Sanaa, Yemen. VOA

“What we are likely to see is that interplay with cholera and malnutrition occurring more and more and food insecurity,” he said. “And, not only more cases because of that, but even higher death rates among the cholera cases that do occur because people just do not have the physical resources to fight the disease any longer.”

Also Read: WHO: Breastfeeding Gives Babies The Best Start in Life

The United Nations is calling for three days of tranquillity between August 4 and 6. It wants the warring parties to stop fighting during this period so WHO and its partners can carry out a massive oral cholera vaccination campaign.

Salama said 3,000 health workers are being mobilized in three districts in northern Yemen. Their aim is to vaccinate more than 500,000 individuals above the age of one. Last year, cholera cases in Yemen topped one million in the world’s worst outbreak of the disease. (VOA) 

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Ebola Not A Global Health Emergency: WHO

WHO advised DRC's nine neighboring countries that they were at high risk of having the disease spread into their territories

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An emergency committee convened by the World Health Organization has decided that the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO said Wednesday that 216 cases of Ebola and 139 deaths had been reported, and its International Health Regulations Emergency Committee said the outbreak was a matter of serious concern, especially since it is occurring in an area of conflict in eastern DRC. It said this posed problems for health workers who need to move around freely and track people who are infected with the virus and need treatment.

But the committee said that one reason it did not regard the outbreak as a global threat was that the virus had not spread into neighboring countries.

Congo,ebola
A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Committee Chairman Robert Steffan said the international response to the outbreak had been very good. He said WHO and other agencies had achieved quite a lot since the outbreak was declared Aug. 1. In fact, he said the disease was being brought under control in North Kivu province.

The disease is flaring up in another province, and the response is being concentrated in this area, he said, “so we do have some optimism that this outbreak, just like the one in May, will be brought under control within reasonable time.”

Steffan said the committee agreed that declaring an international emergency at this time would hinder efforts to contain the Ebola virus. He said a declaration would have implications for travel and trade, making it difficult for needed experts and supplies to access the affected areas.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

However, as a precaution, WHO recommended exit screenings, including at airports, ports and land crossings. But it noted that entry screenings, particularly in distant airports, would have no public health benefit and would be costly.

Also Read: North Kivu And Ituri, Congo To Welcome More Than 80,000 Children In This New School Year

WHO advised DRC’s nine neighboring countries that they were at high risk of having the disease spread into their territories, and it said it was supporting them with equipment and personnel. It said these preparedness activities were expensive and would require substantial financial support from the international community. (VOA)