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Testimony

Yemen

the looming threat of cholera

Across the country, 16 million people are in dire need of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. In addition, 16.4 million people lack access to health services, 50% of health facilities are shut and more than 70% do not have regular supplies of essential medicines.

 

Last year, Yemen was hit by the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, affecting close to 1 million people. In response to the emergency Action Against Hunger has been providing safe water through water trucking, training Ministry of Health staff on cholera prevention, distributing hygiene kits, delivering hygiene promotion sessions and has upgraded the Diarrhoea Treatment Centre (DTC) in Hodeidah from a temporary to a permanent facility. On the community level, we trained community health works who made household visits that included cholera referrals, health education and cholera prevention awareness sessions.

Many cases

Dalal, a 25-year-old woman from Hodeidah city, is one of our patients. She is married and has two children – two-year-old Amgad, and new-born Mohammed. Only three days after he was born, Mohammed and his mom both contracted cholera, and had to receive treatment in Action Against Hunger’s recently rehabilitated Diarrhoea Treatment Center at the Al Thawra in Hodeidah.

Protracted conflict and collapse of basic services in Yemen have caused massive deterioration in living standards among the population. Dalal and her family have barely been able to survive, with her husband having no job and the family having no regular source of income. The family has no other choice but to resort to drinking the contaminated water from the public network that is not always safe for human consumption.

Dalal was admitted to the DTC only three days after she delivered Mohammed, after displaying signs of severe dehydration. The new mother looked lethargic, her measured body temperature below normal values, she was confused and seemed in shock. The doctors suspected that she might be infected with cholera, which was later confirmer through laboratory test results.

She was then immediately referred for treatment and close observation, with special focus on her ability to regain consciousness. Dalal responded well to the usual rehydration treatment, her condition gradually improved, and she regained consciousness.

On the second day of her treatment, Mohammed – who was only three days old at the time – was referred to the same health facility in critical condition displaying signs of shock, which is one of the most serious complications of dehydration. Mohammed was urgently transferred to the paediatric emergency unit to receive immediate rehydration treatment and remain under close supervision of the cholera team. 24 hours later, Mohammed was moved to the paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for further treatment. He responded well to treatment, and two weeks into his stay at the DTC, Mohammed could be discharged back home with status “improved”.

Dalal and Mohammed were only two among many cholera cases in Hodeidah and in Yemen.

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