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Diphtheria spreading in Yemen amid zionist Saudi aggression : Aid groups

Aid officials have warned of the spread of diphtheria in war-torn Yemen, which has already been grappling with a deadly cholera outbreak amid a devastating Saudi war.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that more than 280 suspected diphtheria cases and 33 associated deaths were reported in Yemen as of Tuesday, many of them children who had not been immunized against the disease.

“Left unchecked, diphtheria can cause devastating epidemics, mainly affecting children,” Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesman told Reuters.

WHO and officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Border, also known by its French acronym MSF, said the diphtheria spread is inevitable in Yemen due to low vaccination rates, lack of access to medical care and so many people moving around and coming in contact with those infected.

According to health officials, diphtheria spreads as easily as the common cold through sneezing, coughing or even talking.

“There is the potential for a larger-scale outbreak of diphtheria, given that not everyone has been vaccinated,” MSF’s emergency coordinator in Yemen , Marc Poncin said.

A Yemeni child suspected of being infected with cholera receives treatment at Sabaeen Hospital in Sana’a, on June 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Yemen is already battling a cholera epidemic that has infected about one million people. Earlier in October, WHO said that the epidemic, exacerbated by the devastation of the country’s health infrastructure, has killed more than 2,000.

“This is undeniably another human-made disease inflicted on a country that has barely recovered from a massive cholera outbreak, which is not even over yet,” Poncin said.

According to MSF, diphtheria could be more fatal than cholera, especially among unvaccinated children under 5 years old, saying as many as two in five diphtheria cases end in death.

Caroline Boustany, an aid worker with the International Rescue Committee, called the outbreak as “very worrisome,” saying, “We have a spike in cases of a very easily preventable disease.”

Diphtheria is a contagious and potentially fatal bacterial infection, mainly characterized by a thick grey membrane at the back of the throat or nose, sore throat and fever. It can be prevented through vaccination.

The United Nations warned on Monday that 8.4 million people in war-torn Yemen are “a step away from famine,” as the country faces soaring food prices and fuel shortages duo to a Saudi blockade on the impoverished country.

A Yemeni child suffering from malnutrition eats biscuits with nutritional supplements at a medical centre on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on December 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi Arabia and a group of its allies have been bombing Yemen since 2015 to put its former Riyadh-friendly government back in the saddle. More than 12,000 have died since the war began.

Now, more than eight million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation, making the country the scene of, what the UN calls, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the head of the US government’s aid agency said on Tuesday that there were no signs that a Saudi blockade of the ports had eased to let in aid consignments.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called last Sunday for an end to the “stupid war,” which has also the firm backing of the United States and Britain.

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