Cholera outbreaks dramatically decline in Yemen following new DFID prediction method
Experts from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) are working alongside Met Office, NASA and scientists from the US to accurately predict the spread of cholera in Yemen.
By utilising data from NASA scientists have been able to develop a model that predicts where cholera is most at risk of spreading with 92% accuracy in Yemen. UK aid is utilising these findings and predictions alongside the Met Office to give aid workers on the ground in Yemen information to respond to outbreaks quicker and more effectively than ever before.
Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientist Professor, Department for International Development said:
"By connecting science and international expertise with the humanitarian response on the ground, we have for the very first time used sophisticated predictions of where the risk of cholera is highest to help aid workers save lives and prevent needless suffering for thousands of Yemenis before it’s too late."
The Met Office is able to model where rain has fallen and where it will fall, using this tailored guidance can be given to DFID and humanitarian agencies to inform their actions.
The modelling was first used in March 2018 following a catastrophic cholera outbreak in 2017, with over 1 million cases.
So far this year there has not been a significant outbreak, with the number of suspected cases significantly lower than last year. In the last week of June 2018 there were 2,597 suspected cases and three deaths, compared to 50,825 suspected cases and 179 deaths at the same time in 2017.
Similarly, despite the risk of cholera in Ibb being as high in 2018 as it was in 2017, there were 672 suspected cases in July 2018 compared to 13,659 in July 2017.
Meritxell Relaño, Yemen Representative, UNICEF commented on the importance of the new methods:
"The information on rainfall assessments supports the early warning on high risk areas for cholera outbreak. This enables UNICEF and partners to refine and focus our efforts on preparedness and timely response to cholera which has affected the lives of many children in Yemen."
In addition to predicting where cholera will strike DFID are supporting UNICEF to deliver vital support to the areas most at risk including: promoting good hygiene; stock-piling hygiene kits; providing cholera treatment kits; and providing medical equipment.
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Image credit: UNICEF