Yemen’s suspected cholera cases likely to double to over 600,000

The number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen is expected to at least double by the end of this year, to more than 600,000.

That's according to disease experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The assessment comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday that the war-torn country faces the world's largest ever cholera outbreak.

Matt Wells reports.

WHO estimates that there are already around 370,000 suspected cases of cholera, and nearly 2,000 recorded deaths since the outbreak began at the end of April.

The water-borne disease, which leads to uncontrollable diarrhoea, attacks the most vulnerable and nearly 15 million Yemenis are without access to basic healthcare, due to the on-going conflict.

A Saudi-backed government coalition is battling Iran-supported Houthi rebels for control of the country.

The ICRC President, Peter Maurer, arrived in Yemen on Sunday at the start of a five-day fact-finding mission, and said that the "great tragedy" was that the outbreak was a "preventable, man-made catastrophe."

ICRC estimates that the cases will go on climbing to well over half a million, or one in every 45 Yemenis.

"Further deaths can be prevented," said Mr Maurer ,"but warring parties much ease restrictions and allow the import of medicines, food and essential supplies."

More than three million Yemenis have fled their homes, and more than 20 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Source: United Nations Radio