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Study warns of cholera flare-up in beleaguered Yemen

May 05, 2018 00:00:00

PARIS, May 04 (AFP): War-torn Yemen, caught in what the UN terms the world's worst humanitarian crisis, risks a resurgence of cholera that could infect millions as the rainy season advances, researchers warned Friday. Health authorities should "immediately" boost measures to mitigate risk, an international team urged in The Lancet Global Health.

These could include vaccination, distributing equipment for filtering and disinfecting water, and repairing crumbling sanitation infrastructure.

Based on data from previous outbreaks, the team calculated that 54 per cent of districts in Yemen could be affected by an epidemic flare-up in 2018, "totalling a population at risk of more than 13.8 million."

"We thus make an urgent call for action on the part of local officials, donors, and international partners, to mitigate the risk of a new cholera epidemic wave in Yemen, which would certainly further weaken a highly vulnerable population."

Some 10,000 people have been killed since March 2015 in the conflict between Saudi-backed pro-government forces and Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.

According to the United Nations, two in three Yemenis-more than 17 million people-do not know where their next meal will come from. Two million people are displaced, and fewer than half of health facilities are still functioning.

For the study, researchers looked for evidence of a link between cholera and rainfall in research published between 1970 and 2018. They also examined the history of cholera outbreaks in Yemen from 1971.

The data showed an association between higher rainfall and cholera prevalence, they said.

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