GENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) warns Yemen may be on the verge of another cholera epidemic, which could be deadlier than previous ones because of widespread malnutrition in the war-torn country.
Yemen has had two major waves of cholera epidemics in recent years.
The World Health Organization reports that an increasing number of cases in several heavily populated areas over the past few weeks indicate the country may be on the cusp of a third major wave of this deadly disease.
WHO's emergency response chief, Peter Salama, told VOA another cholera epidemic is likely to be more life-threatening than the previous ones because the population is seriously weakened after three years of civil war. Fighting has been raging between the government and rebel forces.
"What we are likely to see is that interplay with cholera and malnutrition occurring more and more and food insecurity," he said. "And, not only more cases because of that, but even higher death rates among the cholera cases that do occur because people just do not have the physical resources to fight the disease any longer."
The United Nations is calling for three days of tranquility between August 4 and 6. It wants the warring parties to stop fighting during this period so WHO and its partners can carry out a massive oral cholera vaccination campaign.
Salama said 3,000 health workers are being mobilized in three districts in northern Yemen. Their aim is to vaccinate more than 500,000 individuals above the age of one. Last year, cholera cases in Yemen topped one million in the world's worst outbreak of the disease.