The violence from the war has affected sewage systems and left many people displaced, making it especially difficult to access clean water.
Cholera is on the rise in Yemen, with twice as many suspected cases reported in March compared to previous months, according to the United Nations. The crisis has healthcare facilities worried that levels may reach that of the 2017 outbreak which led to the worst flare-up the world has experienced.
Cholera outbreaks are no new to Yemen, which experienced two others since 2017. The previous outbreaks resulted in over one million suspected cases and 3,000 deaths. The spreading of the disease has been escalated by Yemen's civil war, which has been ongoing for four years, as well as seasonal rains starting earlier than usual.
The violence from the war has affected sewage systems and left many people displaced, making it especially difficult to access clean water. The war also makes it difficult for humanitarian organizations, such as the United Nations, to bring in cholera vaccines.
Hospitals are overwhelmed.
"We receive cases around the clock. Sometimes three to four cases a minute," Dr. Ismail al-Mansouri told reporters. At the al-Sabeen Hospital in the country's capital Sanaa, the courtyard is packed with beds and tents full of patients.
Some patients have resorted to laying on sheets of cardboard, with their IV's hanging from tree branches. Because they provide care for free, “the hospital is under heavy pressure, as it receives patients from across the country,” Dr. al-Mansouri explained.
The doctors have also been contracting the disease, including Al-Mansouri. So far, one doctor died on March 28. Over 195 people died last month, from among more than 76,000 cases. The month of March made up more than half of the total deaths in 2019, which has almost reached 300 victims, so far.
Cholera cases amounted to about 32,000 in February, and 39,000 in January. The significant jump witnessed in March mirrors the 2017 outbreak, when cases doubled in just a week. The head of the cholera treatment center in al-Sabeen stresses that "the outbreak this year is much worse and the situation is very dangerous."
The cholera outbreak adds to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which includes civil unrest, mass displacement and food shortages.