The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says cholera has claimed the lives of at least 115 people in Yemen and left thousands of others ill as hospitals struggle to cope with an influx of patients in the conflict-plagued impoverished Arab country.
Dominik Stillhart, the ICRC director of operations, said in a news conference in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Sunday that the deaths occurred between April 27 and May 13.
“We now are facing a serious outbreak of cholera,” Stillhart said, citing figures compiled by the Yemeni Health Ministry.
Over 8,500 suspected cases of the waterborne disease were reported in the same period in 14 governorates across Yemen, Stillhart added.
The latest figures are up from 2,300 cases in 10 governorates last week.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Stillhart said hospitals were filled beyond capacity with patients displaying symptoms of cholera.
“There are up to four cholera patients in one single bed,” Stillhart said, adding, “There are people in the garden, and some even in their cars with the IV drip hanging from the window.”
Sherine Varkey, a UNICEF deputy representative, said patients spilled out of hospital rooms into the corridors of Sabeen hospital in Sana’a on Saturday.
A girl infected with cholera lies on the ground of a hospital room in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah, Yemen, May 14, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
“So the situation of the ongoing cholera outbreak is extremely serious. I am standing here in the corridor of the Al Sabeen hospital, which is the apex hospital for maternal and child care in the entire country, and it is shocking to see the number of patients who have spilled across the rooms onto the corridor.
The capacity of the hospital is really been compromised with a lot of patients coming to the hospital. These are patients who are suffering from acute watery diarrhea, many of them could be having cholera and this is a matter of urgency and all the partners are trying their best to really reach out and support these hospitals to cater to these children.”
“Here at the Al Sabeen hospital, in the diarrhea treatment ward, and the situation is really overwhelming. This is the Al Miswary family. The four children of this family are all suffering from diarrhea, one of them is seriously ill,” Varkey said.
Hussein El Haddad, the director of Sabeen hospital, said, “The situation is very bad. The children that are suffering from cholera are countless and there aren’t enough beds, the technical know-how [in the hospital] is also insufficient to deal with the situation we are facing.”