The faces of Yemen’s cholera outbreak: 12-year-old Bushra Abdullah

The faces of Yemen’s cholera outbreak: 12-year-old Bushra Abdullah

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Posted
6/28/17

Bushra Abdullah and her family came to Hajja city, Yemen in search of a better life after being displaced from their home in Alwasha district due to the country’s conflict. Yemen is also facing a cholera outbreak that is compounding the country’s dire humanitarian crisis. Bushra, 12, who already lives with a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, is now among the hundreds of thousands of Yemenis impacted by the fast-spreading disease.

The country’s lack of a functioning health system and Yemenis’ limited access to safe water and hygiene have fueled the disease’s spread. Hajja governorate has had some of Yemen’s highest infection numbers, with 17,431 out of the more than 200,000 reported cases.

Bushra has just started treatment at the cholera isolation unit at the Aljomhuri Hospital in Hajja. Her sister sits by her side as she receives treatment. She explains that their father previously worked as a construction laborer and their lives were comfortable. When the conflict started, most of the construction projects stopped and he lost his only source of income. Since then, he’s tried unsuccessfully to find work.

18.8 million people in Yemen require humanitarian assistance, 14.5 million lack access to safe water and sanitation services, 17 million people are food insecure, and around 2 million are displaced. More than half of all health facilities in Yemen are closed or partially functioning as a result of the conflict. Public service delivery institutions face huge challenges to resume salaries for public sector employees, most of whom have not received payment for more than eight months.  

The family of five is now living in one room in Hajja city and is grappling with the effects of displacement, poverty and, now, disease. “Taking care of Bushra’s health condition was hard enough. Needing to get treatment for an additional illness is stretching us to our limits,” Bushra’s sister says.

Bushra Abdullah and her family came to Hajja city, Yemen, in search of a better life after being displaced from their home in Alwasha district due to the country’s conflict.

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