Emirates Red Crescent and WHO lead fight against cholera in Yemen

Emirates Red Crescent links up with World Health Organisation to stop outbreak, with 3 million Yemenis at risk.

ABU DHABI // Emirates Red Crescent has joined the battle against the deadly cholera outbreak sweeping Yemen.

The charity, in coordination with the World Health Organisation, has provided Dh33 million to vaccinate as many patients as possible, with 2,000 new cases reported each day.

“We need to organise the cholera vaccination campaign to limit the spread,” said Dr Malik Rahman of the WHO.

“We carried out a similar campaign in Somalia and the results were phenomenal. We want to replicate the same efforts with same results, with the support of the Emirates Red Crescent.

“We are working hand in hand with the Emirates Red Crescent to tackle the outbreak.”

About three million people are at severe risk of the disease because of a lack of clean drinking water and proper health care.

Mr Rahman said that despite security problems in Yemen from the country’s continuing war, UAE charity staff are enlisting the help of communities to find and treat cholera patients.

Fahad bin Sultan, deputy secretary general for international aid at the charity, has seen the ravages of the cholera outbreak first-hand. He said the situation “is very bad and cholera is spreading very fast”.

“Last month Dh33 million was approved for the treatment of cholera and to support hospitals in Yemen,” Mr bin Sultan said.

“In the past two years, the UAE supported Yemen with Dh7 billion in different humanitarian projects, in which Dh500m was given by the Red Crescent.

“Now with the support of the WHO, we are dispatching from the UAE to Yemen special medicine to fight cholera.”

Aid funds have been spent on health programmes, buying equipment and medicine for hospitals, and feeding and clothing the population.

As health workers battle to keep cholera under control, the WHO has warned there is also a risk of measles and other diseases as health services struggle to cope. Half of all health centres are out of operation.

More outbreaks could be prevented through nationwide immunisation.

Dr Mohammed Al Falahi, secretary general of the Emirates Red Crescent, said health, social and humanitarian programmes have been launched during Ramadan to cater to the basic needs of Yemenis.

“We hope that about three million people will benefit from this drive to prevent the epidemic,” Dr Al Falahi said.

About seven million people are also in danger of starvation as Yemen faces the world’s worst food crisis, he said. Up to 50 per cent of children in Yemen under 5 years of age are malnourished.

A UAE ship landed on Thursday night in Aden, carrying 16,000 food packages for people in liberated areas. They will be distributed to families of martyrs and vulnerable people during Ramadan.

Another ship is due to deliver 40,000 more food packages in the holy month.