Health emergency in Yemen,Pope Francis pray for the children

June 30, 2020

At the Angelus prayer on this last Sunday of June, Pope Francis follows a heartfelt prayer for the areas of the world most in distress. In particular, for Yemen, where the population is exhausted by an endless war. The situation is also complicated by the lack of structures and services to face the coronavirus pandemic.“I invite you to pray for the people of Yemen, also here and especially for the children, who suffer from the humanitarian crisis”. The Pope’s thought, after the Angelus prayer, embraces the world again, from Syria to Lebanon, from Ukraine to one of the symbolic places of forgotten suffering, Yemen.

In the country, according to the latest UNICEF report, the total number of malnourished children under five years of age could increase to a total of 2.4 million – almost half of the total – an increase of about 20%. An additional 6,600 children under the age of five could die from preventable causes by the end of the year, an increase of 28%.

The Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen reported 3113 suspected cases and two associated death during epidemiological week 23 (1 – 7 June) of 2020 with 15% of the cases reported as severe. The cumulative total number of suspected cholera cases from 1 January 2018 to 7 June 2020 is 1 374 961 with 1568 associated deaths (CFR 0.11%). Children under five represent 23% of the total suspected cases during 2020. The outbreak has affected 22 of the 23 governorates and 293 of the 333 districts of Yemen.

Suspected cholera cases at the country level started to be increasingly reported from week eight of 2019 and the trend continued until week 14 when the number of cases reached more than 29 500, the highest number of cases reported so far. The number of suspected cases fluctuated over the following period with the trend now considered as stable during the past three weeks based on the average number of cases calculated between weeks 21 and 23.The governorates reporting the highest number of suspected cases of cholera during 2020 are Al Hudaydah (22 742), Sana’a (21 348), Taizz (17 809), Ibb (13 819), Al Bayda (13 134), Amanat Al Asimah (11 447), Hajjah (10 123) and Dhamar (9705).

Of a total of 1005 samples tested at the central public health laboratories since January 2020, 86 have been confirmed as cholera-positive by culture. During this reporting period the governorates reporting the highest number of positive cultures were Taizz (57), Al Hudaydah (8) and Amran (5). Due to the war from March 2015, many water infrastructures have been destroyed, making the sources of access unhealthy, with the consequent spread of diseases such as yellow fever and cholera, which in 2016 affected over one million people, killing 3,500 of them. This situation has worsened with the arrival of the COVID-19, and the economic crisis that has hit the country.

Activists note a high mortality rate among children, especially under five years of age, as well as the precarious nutritional status of the entire population. The collapse of water services and that of sanitation has led the country to depend on humanitarian aid. Today 4 million people in Yemen refer to the water supply of tankers, but it is not always possible to bring them water because there is also a lack of fuel in large parts of the country.

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