Thursday, 7 December 2017

Water, water everywhere ...

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is one of my earliest poetic memories. It was probably the first epic poem that I read. I loved the way poetry could be used to tell a story. The poem used vivid imagery to open a reader to an ocean voyage fraught with horror but it was idea of being becalmed at sea without drinking water that stuck in my young mind;

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot – Oh Christ!
That ever this should be.
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs,
Upon the slimy sea. 

Coleridge's poem was written in 1834.  During the 19th century, cholera spread across the world from its original reservoir in the Ganges delta in India. Six subsequent pandemics killed millions of people across all continents. The current (seventh) pandemic started in South Asia in 1961 and reached Africa in 1971 and the Americas in 1991. Cholera is now endemic in many countries. In Yemen - cholera is pandemic. 

The cholera outbreak in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with a million cases expected by the end of the year and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported more than 815,000 suspected cases of the disease in Yemen and 2,156 deaths. About 4,000 suspected cases are being reported daily, more than half of which are among children under 18. Children under five account for a quarter of all cases.
  • Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.
  • Severe cases need rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
  • Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
  • Cholera is an easily treatable disease. The majority of people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS). The WHO/UNICEF ORS standard sachet is dissolved in 1 litre (L) of clean water. Adult patients may require up to 6 L of ORS to treat moderate dehydration on the first day.
The crisis in Yemen is completely man made. More than two years of fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels has crippled the country, causing widespread internal displacement, the collapse of the public health system, and leaving millions on the brink of famine. The situation worsened when public health workers, whose salaries had gone unpaid, went on strike. Rubbish, left on the street washed into the water supply.

Over 19 million Yemenis no longer have access to clean water. Without rehydration through salts and clean water, the disease spreads like wildfire. The Yemeni government stopped funding the public health department in 2016: many doctors and hospital staff have not been paid for more than a year. Healthcare has since been provided mainly by international groups. Their progress has been hampered by conflict.

The most of the children of Yemen do not celebrate Christmas. Many of them may not live until the end of the year. Who cares? WHO cares – there is a continual appeal for aid to provide ORS packs and to pipe in clean water supply. When you consider buying that extra gift this year, consider helping Save the Children to provide a ceramic water filter for a family and help stop the spread of this virulent disease.

Here in the West, we believe that fresh, clean water is our human right. When our local water supply became infected with cryptosporidium, we were able to buy clean, bottled water. Eventually we were compensated. In Yemen over one million people will be infected by cholera by the end of 2017.  Many will die. Death from cholera is preventable.


Yemen lies awash
with parasitic conflict:
Open the floodgates.

Thanks for reading. Please pass this on to your friends and family. Adele 


Steve Rowland said...

Adele, this was very moving and a timely reminder of our humanity. I've just donated online via the link. It took two minutes and is very straightforward to do. Every drop of help makes a difference. As you so poignantly say: 'Open the floodgates'. Let's hope so.