Yemeni Hospitals at Breaking Point due to Cholera Outbreak

Published May 7th, 2017 - 06:00 GMT
A doctor treats a malnourished Yemeni child at a hospital in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on May 2, 2017. (AFP/Stringer)
A doctor treats a malnourished Yemeni child at a hospital in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on May 2, 2017. (AFP/Stringer)

As the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, is struggling with an unprecedented outbreak of cholera, its al-Sabeen Maternity and Child Hospital is on the verge of breaking point, crammed with pandemic patients.

An overflow of cholera patients at al-Sabeen has pushed the facility well past its full capacity and into a health care crisis. On Saturday, patients, including many children, were laid down on halls and placed in makeshift open-air wards.

"The total number of cases has reached 1,350 cases in all provinces in Yemen, with two thirds of cases in the capital Sana'a. This is why you notice the overcrowding of the hospital with patients. Also, four new centers have been opened in the capital," said Abdel Rahim al-Kahlani, a spokesman for the Yemeni Ministry of Health.

Over two years of Saudi Arabia's full-scale war on the impoverished country have put more than half of all health facilities in Yemen in a state of complete or partial shutdown. Furthermore, there are critical shortages in medical doctors in over 40 percent of all districts, according to the health ministry.

"The difficulties we are facing include shortage in staff and in medication. Most of the medicines are registered outside the hospital; they cannot be found in hospitals," said Salah Zaheeq, a nurse at al-Sabeen hospital.   

The relentless Saudi airstrikes against Yemen have also inflicted a variety of health hazards on the people.

In early October last year, the World Health Organization announced the grim news of cholera outbreak in the war-torn country and three weeks later it reported that the number of cholera cases across Yemen, including the capital, had soared to hundreds.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated drinking water and could prove fatal in up to 15 percent of untreated cases.

"I suffered from several complications while at home, there was nothing, and then all of a sudden I had continuous diarrhea and vomiting. I stayed at home for two days like that, and then they said it was cholera, so I was treated and thank God I reached the hospital and they did everything they had to do," said Rahma el-Zoheiry, a newly treated cholera patient at al-Sabeen.

Nearly 3.3 million Yemeni people, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition, with more than seven million Yemenis facing the plight of starvation. The figures, however, could worryingly increase if the Saudi war machine continues to breathe fire on Yemeni people.    

Since March 2015, Yemen has been heavily bombarded by Saudi warplanes as part of a brutal campaign against the impoverished country in an attempt to reinstall Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen's president who has resigned and is a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Latest tallies show that the imposed war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more. The Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country's facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

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