Dengue fever cases surge up in Yemen, WHO reports

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that there has been a surge in the number of people reported to have contracted dengue fever in Yemen since the current conflict, which has left more than 1 million people internally displaced and has disrupted health services, began.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms, which can develop into a life-threatening illness. WHO says that more than 3,000 cases of dengue fever were recorded between 27 March and 4 June this year, with three people having died from the infection. WHO says that the actual number of cases of dengue fever could be higher. Cases have been reported in the governorates of Hodeidah, Lahij, Habramaut, Aden, Taiz and Shabwah.

Dengue fever is endemic in Yemen and outbreaks follow seasonal patterns with the highest number of cases reported from April to August. The last major outbreak was in 2011 in Hodeidah governorate with 1,500 confirmed cases.

The prevention and control of the dengue infection depends solely on effective vector control measures. Tarik Jasarevic, spokesperson for WHO, said, “WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health and health authority governorates to do an epidemiological field investigations and entomological survey focusing on dengue mosquito vector and breeding sites in Hodeidah, Hadramaut and Aden governorates.”

Jasarevic says that the surge in the number of people with dengue fever is making a difficult situation even worse: “This obviously comes on top of a very difficult health situation in Yemen where immunization activities have been disrupted leaving millions of children below the age of five unvaccinated, increasing the risk of measles, and we have seen cases of measles and increasing the risk of polio, which has been eliminated but again is a risk.”

As the crisis in Yemen continues, reports are coming out of the country that migrant workers have become caught up in the conflict and stranded, often without food, water and shelter. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that on Wednesday a boat carrying 200 Ethiopian migrant workers left Hodeidah in Yemen to travel to the Djibouti port of Obock, where the migrants received immediate humanitarian assistance. IOM says that it has been helping over 500 Ethiopian migrants stranded in city of Haradh over the past couple of weeks. Those who were evacuated on Wednesday will now be escorted back to Ethiopia and helped on their way.

Meanwhile, final preparations are underway for the start of talks with Yemen’s two main warring parties at the United Nations in Geneva. The meeting will begin as ‘proximity’ talks on Sunday with UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. It is hoped that both sides can be brought together to discuss ending hostilities and working towards a more peaceful, stable and democratic country. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will attend the first day of talks, which are expected to last two or three days. The talks follow more than two months of intense fighting in Yemen.