"Fears that the world's worst cholera outbreak could be set for a massive resurgence are growing," the relief organization said Thursday.
In a statement, Oxfam warned that fighting and restraints on access – including checkpoints and permit requirements imposed by the warring parties – are making it extremely difficult to reach some affected areas.
The upcoming rainy season is likely to accelerate the spread of the disease due to flooding and contamination of water sources, Oxfam said.
In the last two weeks of March, around 2,500 suspected cases were being reported every day, up from around 1,000 a day in February. That is more than 10 times higher than the number of reported cases and associated deaths during the same period in 2018.
The relief organization has recorded around 195,000 suspected cases of cholera so far this year.
According to Oxfam, the water-borne bacterial infection has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Yemen since the outbreak began in 2016.
At its height in June 2017, 7,000 suspected cases were being identified every day and the outbreak was described as the worst in human history by the World Health Organization.
Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, said, “The people of Yemen have already endured the worst cholera outbreak in history, amid more than four years of war and the collapse of the country’s economy.
“Allowing this disease to spread across the country again causing yet more unnecessary deaths would be a stain on the conscience of humanity. The international community urgently needs to ensure safe, secure and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid for all people in need across the country.”
Yemen’s cholera outbreak is fueled by Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes and crippling blockade which have further choked the country’s health sector.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection that is spread through contaminated food or water. It can be effectively treated with the immediate replacement of lost fluids and salts, but without treatment it can be fatal.
The ongoing conflict has led to a deterioration in water and sanitation systems across Yemen. Clean water and proper sanitation are essential in preventing cholera. The UN estimates there are 17.8 million people in Yemen in need of help to get clean water.