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Cholera Cases in Yemen Dropping, But Epidemic Not Over

A child receives a polio vaccination on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sana'a, on Dec. 11, 2017.

The World Health Organization reports the number of cholera cases in war-torn Yemen has decreased significantly. But the U.N. agency warns the epidemic is far from over and more efforts are needed to contain the disease and prevent future outbreaks.

The World Health Organization says cholera cases in Yemen have topped one million over the last 14 months, confirming this as the worst cholera epidemic in history.

While this is a huge number of infections, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says the death toll of 2,227 is very low.

"We are talking about one million, but it is important to understand that this is not one million people who are sick.Today, 99.7 percent of them, in fact, have survived and have recovered from cholera," he said.

Jasarevic said the average number of cases per week has dropped significantly over the last three months.But, he warns people must remain vigilant and not let down their guard.

The spokesman says everyone must work together to make sure the disease is contained and does not come back in the future.

"WHO is still supporting dehydration treatment centers… as well as continued surveillance, detection and treatment.Since the beginning of the cholera outbreak we have saved tens of thousands of lives by establishing treatment centers, delivering supplies, distributing public health guidance, training health workers and working with communities on prevention," he said.

Despite this positive assessment, Jasarevic said the health situation in Yemen remains extremely dire and prone to epidemic disease outbreaks at any time.

He said matters are made worse by the inability of aid workers to access certain areas of the country and Saudi Arabia's blockade of Yemen's sea and airports.He says this is preventing the import of vaccines, medications and medical equipment that are needed to save lives.