A country ‘on its knees’: Cholera takes hold in war-weary Yemen
Video     Photos     Pakistan     World     Islam     Health     Crime     Islamic News     Business     Society     India     Travel     Middle East     Sport     sci/tech      Contact      RSS
Search

US seeking regime change with 12 demands on Iran, experts say

100 Day plan: Is Imran Khan sure to win the next election?

Sunni party chief lambastes banned Deobandi parties alliance under Sami-ul-Haq

A laughing Stock: Why UN should be abolished?

Muslims forced to drink alcohol and eat pork in Chinese detention camps, claims former inmate

Is a drone attack possible on Football World Cup?

Desperate Nawaz Sharif on suicide mission

PTM denial and TTP support: What is the Inside story?

Iran denies accusations of aiding Taliban in Afghanistan

‘Ramadan of Aleppo more beautiful’ event revitalizes old city

Palestinians in Jerusalem reject Ramadan meals provided by UAE

Deadly heatwave: At least 65 dead from heatstroke in Karachi

The spineless Arab world

How did Imam Khamenei predict the failure of JCPOA?

Are religious parties going to reign in Pakistan in 2018 polls?

Shia Friday prayer leader asks PML-N to desist from anti-Army Narrative

Parting ways with Govt: Opportunist Fazal-Ur-Rehman jumps out of sinking PML-N ship

Dirty politics: Is Nawaz putting country's security in danger?

Iran rejects report about proposal for new agreement with major powers

UK royal wedding just another public deception: Academic

Turkish intelligence receives information about an attempt to assassinate Erdogan

The New ‘Axis of Evil’ Forms Up Against Iran

Is Nawaz Sharif campaigning for his downfall?

Trump’s sanctions on Iran threaten plans for Chabahar port

The Last gamble: What is Nawaz Sharif's long term game?

China Lands Nuclear Bombers on Disputed Islands in warning to US

Abbas Town bombing, Nishtar Park carnage cases to be tried by military courts

Quetta Operations: Pakistan COAS takes the fight of Hazaras

Netanyahu dines with Emiratis as Palestinians boycott their iftars

Russia unveils world’s first floating nuclear power station

EU Blocks US Sanctions Against Iran

EU too weak to challenge US hegemony: Prof. Entessar

Who are the People of Ali?

Pakistan raises issue of Israeli terrorism in Gaza at UN General Assembly

Afghan cricket stadium attack leaves 8 dead, 45 wounded

Sabika Sheikh profile: Pakistani student who got killed in Texas school shooting

Rohingya rape victims: A time of retrospection for Muslims

Nawaz Sharif's self centered approach: Is PML-S in the offing?

Avenfield Case: Is Adiala Jail ready to receive Nawaz Sharif?

China tries to brainwash Muslims in internment camps

Cuban airliner with 113 on board crashes after takeoff from Havana

At least 8 students killed as gunman opens fire at Texas school, US media reports

Gunman storms into Trump golf course ranting about president before exchanging fire with police

Cat is out of Bag: US comes out to Nawaz Sharif's rescue

Defence Attache Col Joseph Hall will face trial in the US, FO claims

Where is Mohammad bin Salman? Media speculates about possible death of Saudi Crown Prince

Who pushed Nawaz Sharif into this mess? An Inside story

Shrouding mystery: Why is international world interested in volume 10?

Conditions for talks: What is Zardari's new game plan against PML-N?

Nawaz Sharif's rhetoric: Is Nawaz deliberately pushing PML-N to the end?

'One Belt-One Road' may be Iran, China gateway to becoming soft-power giants

Why Arab Muslim states are silent on Gaza Massacre?

The Holy Month of Ramadan: The Month of Glory, Forbearance, Patience and Brotherhood

Selective Outrage on Gaza exposes Salafi Supremacists of the Muslim World

Fallout of Nawaz Sharif’s statement

Saudi crown prince goes into hiding since last month's attack on royal palace

'Monday massacre a day of shame for Muslims'

US, Israel flags burned at pro-Palestine rally in Pakistan

Saudi referee handed lifetime ban for match-fixing

A sigh of relief for Hazaras: LeJ Balochistan chief along two fellows killed.,

Pak-Afghan thaw: Can China bring neighbors close?

Ramazan moon sighted, holy month to begin from Tomorrow

Massacre of Palestinians: Is two state solution over forever?

Pakistan, Turkey to raise voice against Israeli atrocities at world forums

How will Europe act towards Palestine now?

Spilling the beans: Nawaz Sharif to unveil names behind 2014 Sit ins?

Nawaz Sharif on a suicide mission?

Mysterious departure: Why Pakistan allowed killer US diplomat to fly away?

US closely monitoring Iranian forces in Persian Gulf: Navy chief

North Korea threatens to cancel Trump meeting

Turkey asks Israeli envoy to leave country

Tribal elders, political leaders in Bajaur back security forces against PTM

South Africa withdraws its ambassador to Israel “with immediate effect”

Arabic press review: Tunisian union may block US ships to protest embassy move

Would opening of embassy in Jerusalem give new impetus to Al-Qaeda?

MH370 Captain Crashed Plane in Murder-suicide: Experts

The last selfie: How technology has become a menace for millennials

Refusal to retract remarks: Is Nawaz Sharif looking for Martial Law?

World's criminal silence: Another blood bath Gaza

Succumbed to US pressure: Killer US diplomat allowed to leave

28 Palestinians martyred in clashes ahead of US Jerusalem embassy opening

Nawaz's new Narrative: Is it an attempt to appease India?

Nawaz's comments in 'best interest' of Pakistan, says Maryam

Why didn't Pakistan complete Mumbai attacker's trial? Nawaz Sharif's another question

Afghanistan wants Iran to rid it of terrorism scourge

US war hawks threaten EU over Iran deal

The first bullet

Can Shahbaz Sharif defend his traitor brother?

Israeli protesters rally against US embassy move to Al Quds

Senator irked by US sanctions on Iran as it will affect Pakistan trade

Somalia: Woman with 11 husbands to be stoned to death by Al-Shabaab

40 tourists missing as bridge collapses in Neelum Valley

Trump links US exit from nuclear deal to Iran military budget

A proven Traitor: Nawaz Sharif says Pakistan was involved in Mumbai attacks?

Horrific ‘hairy’ creature washes up on Philippine beach

Syria will not hesitate to retaliate against Israeli attacks: Envoy

For Nawaz, it’s not over till it’s over

Abbotabad like operation: Pakistan foils US attempt to take killer diplomat out of Pakistan

ISIS threatened to kill Trump

Sudan officially announces its decision to withdraw from the Yemen war

2017-05-18 11:57:23

A country ‘on its knees’: Cholera takes hold in war-weary Yemen

is-57SHAFAQNA – Hilal al-Asri brought his wife to a hospital in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, nearly two weeks ago, expecting her cholera would be cleared up quickly and they’d be on their way.

Today, three of his five children share a bed next to hers, all of them hooked up to fluid drips in a makeshift ward hastily assembled to deal with an outbreak that has killed 206 and suspected to have infected more than 17,200 since 27 April, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest count.

A nurse sits in a narrow corridor taking blood samples from new arrivals, all of them women and children in what is, in more ordinary times, a maternity hospital. Some patients lie on the floor. Children scream in pain, many of them shockingly thin.

It’s “a disaster”, 35-year old al-Asri says, watching Yemen’s epidemic take hold of his family and home city at a speed that is deeply worrisome – Shinjiro Murata, head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières, which alone has treated 1,670 patients, told IRIN she is “very concerned that the disease will continue to spread and become out of control”.

Those controlling the capital – an uneasy alliance of Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh – have this week declared a “state of emergency” in the city, which alone has 4,000 cases of cholera.

Cholera should be an easy disease to treat and control – it takes rehydration, sometimes antibiotics, and containment. But after two years of war, the country and its capital are worn down, infrastructure is destroyed, and the outbreak is vividly and alarmingly exposing the dysfunction, decay, and desperation that have long been just beneath the surface.

How did we get here?

A Saudi Arabia-led regional coalition began airstrikes in a bid to restore President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power in March 2015 – some 10,000 civilians fatalities have been counted, although the actual toll is thought to be far higher.

Sana’a, controlled by the Resistance Movement since September 2014, has borne the brunt of the sustained aerial bombardment. But aside from the deaths, the bombs have left an indelible mark on the city in terms of infrastructure destroyed, hospitals no longer operational.

Some examples of the city’s degradation – the sort that have allowed cholera to take hold – are immediately evident. Garbage lies in piles on the streets, even in areas that are still relatively wealthy.

Other impacts of the war are less visible. The city has suffered less from the extreme hunger – nearing famine – that has gripped other parts of Yemen. People here are still extremely poor. Since Hadi moved the Central Bank to its nominal power base in the southern city of Aden eight months ago, most of the country’s 1.2 million public sector workers – including doctors, teachers, and soldiers – have gone unpaid. But in Sana’a, at least, there have still been ways for an enterprising populace to hustle some kind of existence. The cholera epidemic is threatening to change that.

Al-Asri is worried that he won’t be able to afford his family’s treatment at al-Sabeen Hospital. It’s a public facility and free, but patients must pay for medications not in stock. “It causes one so much anxiety,” he says.

Poor families are hosting displaced relatives (the war has driven an estimated two million Yemenis from their homes) and some are resorting to what aid agencies call “negative coping mechanisms”, of the kind that can foster cholera, in particular, according to UNICEF spokesman Mohammed al-Asaadi, “using water from untreated water sources”.

 

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told IRIN he had seen hospitals overflowing with potential patients, some facilities so overworked that patients were sitting with IV drips in courtyards, one man even taking his fluids in a car.

The cholera outbreak in Sana’a, and elsewhere is,” Stillhart said, “very clearly a sign of how the conflict has brought the country to its knees.”

“In a protracted conflict you have direct impact,” he said, referring to violent deaths and injuries: “these are the visible things that everybody focuses on.”

“But what we see less is the fact that because of the economic downturn, lack of credit line for traders, absence of payment for government workers… all of this is taking a very heavy toll. Every single Yemeni family is now affected by the conflict, and the [collapse] of the health system really epitomises this.”

For a country already fighting off famine, uncontrolled cholera could be the last straw.

Overstretched and under-resourced

“There is a big gap in the resources needed to respond to the crisis,” said UNICEF’s al-Asaadi, explaining that aid agencies are having to fill all the gaps as the Ministry of Health is virtually broke. UNICEF has helped al-Sabeen Hospital, for example, move patients out of hallways and into temporary wards.

He, and other humanitarians, cited “big delays in bringing in supplies to Yemen… caused by the long clearance process on all sorts of imported medical supplies.” The protracted process involves clearance from both the UN and, depending on the point of entry, the Saudi-led coalition. This can take several weeks, if not months.

Ali Haidar, an assistant doctor in the cholera ward where al-Asri’s family is being cared for, told IRIN the hospital was overstretched even before the outbreak and was now having to turn away patients who had developed kidney failure from severe untreated cholera. “Medical solutions [for IV etc.] are barely available,” he said. “And if we have them today, there won’t be any tomorrow.”

 

Some stopgaps are in place – aid agencies are handing out chlorine tablets quickly to stop the use of contaminated water – but this is a country woefully underprepared for a significant escalation in the cholera outbreak and badly struggling already.

In one unseen part of society – the country’s prisons – containment action needs to be taken quickly.

Stillhart mentioned Sana’a Central Prison, which he estimates holds 3,000 people in crowded conditions and where the ICC has counted six cholera cases already. This could be an ideal place for quick spread of the disease, he said, adding that the ICRC has already upped its work in detention centres like this to improve hygiene fast.

In a separate statement, Stillhart highlighted how thousands of families had no contact with relatives detained in connection with the conflict. “Enforced disappearances and allegations of ill-treatment and deteriorating conditions further add to the plight of detainees and to families’ anxiety,” he said. The potential of cholera festering in prisons is unlikely to ease their worries. Last year, the ICRC said it visited more than 11,000 detainees in Yemen and 250 Yemeni detainees in Saudi Arabia, but many still remain off-limits.

Rare in a conflict that has often been called forgotten, Stillhart pointed out that there has been a fair bit of media attention paid to the cholera epidemic. “That’s good news,” he said, explaining how the authorities were now facilitating the movement of intravenous fluids and rehydration salts – important in a country where the movement of aid workers has been extremely limited and in some places impossible.

Aid agencies may soon be stepping in to fill a gap that isn’t in their normal remit – garbage collection.

Worse ahead

The need to help Yemen prepare for the worst is made more urgent by the fact that the wet season, usually in July and August, is fast approaching.

“Without a rapid, coordinated, and decentralised response across the country, there is a risk of further spread, especially with ongoing heavy rains,” said MSF’s Murata.

But it’s not just the rain that threatens to get in the way of efforts to contain the cholera outbreak. Aid agencies have been warning for weeks that a predicted battle in the port city of Hodeida could be disastrous. Although many medications come through on UN flights, the vast majority of Yemen’s food and other supplies come in through Hodeida, where they already battle serious delays due to diminished capacity and sluggish screening.

“Fighting in Hodeida may seriously compromise the ability of humanitarian actors to bring in critical lifesaving supplies, including medical supplies used for fighting cholera,” said UNICEF’s al-Asaadi.

Stillart agreed: “It goes without saying that should the conflict intensify even further, especially along the Red Sea coast [where Hodeida is located], this is definitely going to make things worse, first and foremost for the people who are directly affected on the coast, but potentially also for imports of drugs … food staples.”

 

It’s a scenario no one wants to even imagine.

The battle could potentially, at least in the minds of the Saudi-led coalition, bring them ever closer to Sana’a. There, even in the midst of the epidemic, is evidence of both grim political humour and conspiracy theory as Donald Trump prepares to fly to Riyadh on Friday on the first stop of his first overseas trip. On a drainage wall, a piece of graffiti reads: “Cholera is Trump’s gift to al-Saud ahead of his visit”. But Trump brings other gifts too. His administration is set to complete a deal worth more than $100 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

 
Categories:   Other News ،
From other agencies (RSS Reader)