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news | November 15, 2016 | Yemen | Emergency

Yemen battles a cholera outbreak against the backdrop of war

ACTED delivers cholera prevention trainings to health facility staff in Al Maghlaf District, Al Hudaydah governorate, October 2016.

ACTED launches a response to cholera on the ground, distributing hygiene kits and teaching families and health facilities about cholera prevention.

Cholera has broken out in Yemen, a war-torn country in no position to accept further strain on its already fractured health, water and sanitation system. Only 45% of health facilities are functioning and the already deteriorating water system has been compromised by a year and a half of conflict, leaving three in four Yemenis in need of WASH support. At least 7.6 million people are estimated to be living in affected and at-risk areas. As of November 7, there were 84 confirmed cases of cholera and even more who are suspected to have contracted the illness. In Al Hudaydah, Ibb and Al Dhale’e governorates, for example, areas where ACTED works heavily, there are a total of 23 confirmed cases and at least 773 people who are feared ill.

While the situation is highly concerning, the coordinated and early response initiated by the humanitarian community, the UN, and the Yemeni government is a promising start to curb the spread of the disease and the additional suffering it threatens to cause. Through funding from OFDA and the European Union, and in coordination with the WASH cluster, ACTED has joined this response, integrating cholera awareness raising and prevention messaging into all ongoing hygiene promotion trainings, both within communities as well as in eight health facilities in Al Hudaydah, Raymah, Sa’adah, and Al Jawf. This has been complemented by distributions of hygiene kits and informational pamphlets on cholera, as better hygiene is key to preventing the transfer of cholera bacteria, which are spread through the ingestion of contaminated water.

Moving forward, ACTED will continue to conduct activities - in hard-hit areas - designed to tackle the problems at the root of the cholera outbreak, namely lack of access to clean water and inadequate sanitary conditions. ACTED is prepositioning itself to distribute chlorine tablets in Al Hudaydah and is planning to respond through OCHA-funded activities in Al Dhale’e and Ibb towards the cholera response. Cholera prevention measures in these governorates will include a scaleup of hygiene activities for over 1,600 additional beneficiaries. The response will also include an addition of items geared towards cholera prevention to existing hygiene kits, water quality assessment and mapping, distribution of chlorine tablets, and large scale printing of cholera materials for cluster use.

Equally, ACTED is exploring scaling up its response to best support areas that are currently facing an outbreak and to help those that are threatened through prevention measures. Through these efforts, ACTED hopes to help avoid having more victims of a painful and life-threatening illness, and in turn, set the country on a path to recovery.