By Vatican News
Dengue is a viral disease carried by mosquitos. It causes high fever and, among younger children, even death.
According to a statement issued this week by the international organization, Save the Children, there are fears of a real epidemic of the disease in Yemen where around 78 children under the age of 16 have died as a result of dengue-related illnesses. In addition, over 52,000 suspected cases have been registered across the country.
Heavy rainfall, along with the ongoing fighting in Yemen, has hindered access to supplies of clean water. The local population is obliged to use open reservoirs and rainwater catchments that often end up as breeding grounds for mosquitos – particularly the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the dengue virus.
The World Health Organization estimates that the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years.
Ongoing conflict affects healthcare and delivery of medicines
Because of the conflict in Yemen, the situation is so precarious, families often cannot afford to take their children to hospital for treatment, or to purchase medicines. Even if they do get there, most health-care facilities are overflowing and patients are left to lie on the floor.
After nearly five years of fighting in the country, over half of all healthcare facilities are closed or only partially functioning. Hospitals have been damaged by airstrikes, skilled personnel are severely lacking.
According to the statement by Save the Children, only peace in Yemen can guarantee rapid responses and the reconstruction of the collapsing healthcare system, in a country where preventable diseases continue to spread and which is still recovering from a cholera epidemic that has caused over 2 million suspected cases in the last three years.