JEDDAH: The World Health Organization (WHO) and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) signed an agreement worth $8.3 million to combat the cholera outbreak in Yemen.
The support provided by the center will cover 7.3 million people in 13 governorates in the conflict-torn country by providing treatment and conducting preventative activities, a WHO report stated Thursday.
This KSRelief funding under the umbrella of the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean “comes at a critical time and provides us with an opportunity to continue building on our response to contain and control this serious outbreak,” said Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
The support will enable WHO and health authorities to intensify efforts to detect, investigate and respond to cases early and “ensure implementation of treatment measures based on national treatment protocols and international standards,” the report said.
Empowering households and communities to improve their precautionary procedures and apply safe hygiene, in addition to sanitation and food safety are among the measures to be taken. The agreement will involve isolation and infection control practices in health facilities; strengthening logistics capacity for swift procurement and distribution of health supplies and medications; and securing an efficient and effective national and subnational cluster coordination to manage the epidemic.
UN reports indicate that almost 19 million people — more than two-thirds of Yemen’s total population — are in need of humanitarian assistance, and that 14.5 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation.
“While cholera is usually a disease that can be easily prevented and treated, millions of people in Yemen are at risk as a result of limited health, water and environmental sanitation services,” Dr. Fikri said.
Referring to previous collaborations between the Kingdom and the UN agency, he added: “This reflects the strategic partnership between the WHO and Saudi Arabia in order to support the activities and work of the regional office in this area.”
The number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen reached 101,820, with 791 deaths as of June 7, WHO reported last week. The worst affected are children under 15, which comprise 46 percent of the cases, as well as those over 60 years old, or 33 percent of the fatalities.