Rates of cholera cases and deaths continue to rise at alarming levels across Yemen. According to the Yemeni office of the United Nations, 532 people had died in only one month due to the ongoing outbreak. The UN believes there are 65,300 additional cases in more than 253 districts of the country. On May 22, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) deemed the situation “extremely alarming” and warned that international efforts to fight the outbreak are insufficient. The Houthi-held capital Sana’a remains the worst affected area and is in a state of emergency.
Yemen has been engaged in a complex and deadly conflict since Houthi rebels started fighting the international coalition-backed government in 2015.
In early 2017, the UN humanitarian aid office in Yemen announced that the civilian death toll had reached 10,000, with another 40,000 people wounded and ten million in need of emergency assistance. According to the UN, the country is on the brink of famine with seven million people going hungry. Approximately 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and the crisis has placed overwhelming strain on the country's health system. Major health facilities have been destroyed by the conflict and aid deliveries are often blocked by rebels, stolen, or destroyed. The port of Al-Hodeida, one of the largest port of the country, is blocked by rebels and threatened by the conflict, which prevents international aid from entering the country.
Cholera is an infectious disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria that can induce acute diarrhea. The risk of death is greatest among people with compromised immune systems, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, cholera can be fatal within a matter of hours.
To reduce the risk of contracting cholera, wash hands regularly, drink only bottled or purified water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods. Seek immediate medical care if you believe you may have contracted the disease. Regarding the overall situation in the country, the security environment in Yemen remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel. Many Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the country.