Aug. 14 (UPI) — A cholera outbreak in Yemen has affected over one half million people, the World Health Organization announced Monday.
The United Nations agency said in a statement that although its caseload has fallen since July, more than 5,000 people per day are infected by the intestinal illness caused by ingestion of bacteria-laden food or water.
Nearly 2,000 have died of cholera in the war-torn country. The majority of those infected — but have access to health care — are cured, but nearly 15 million Yemenis are unable to obtain basic health care.
The disease is spreading because many Yemenis are cut off from clean water and sanitation. Waste and trash collection has stopped in major cities, and hygiene and sanitation conditions have affected the country’s water supply.
The WHO said shortages of medicine and supplies are widespread, and that 30,000 health care workers have not been paid in over one year.
The United Nations and the Save the Children advocacy group warned of the growing epidemic earlier in August.
The political conflict has killed more than 8,160 people and injured 46,000 since March 2015, the United Nations said.
“Yemen’s health workers are operating in impossible conditions. Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water. These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response. Without them we can do nothing in Yemen. They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.