The war disrupts efforts to combat the world’s fastest mosquitoes, after it destroyed the health system and the sewage system, and made the poor and displaced population more vulnerable and less immune to disease.
In a crowded children’s hospital, hordes of flies crawl to the eyes and mouths, while children find it difficult to breathe under the pain of the virus. Walid Yahya Mansour sits with two members of his family. Two others remained at home because they were unable to move.
The World Health Organization says the number of reported cases of dengue fever worldwide increased nearly six times from 2010 to 2016. The organization describes the disease as one of the 10 largest public health threats worldwide.
Dengue fever causes a very hot body, headache, vomiting, and pain in the muscles and joints. In severe forms, it can lead to internal bleeding. There is no specific treatment for it and no vaccine is widely available for prevention yet, although a vaccine is under trial.
Hodeidah has an active frontline on its eastern outskirts, with the United Nations trying to impose a ceasefire and withdraw troops from it.
The International Federation of Red Crescent and Red Crescent Societies said that Al Hudaydah is the city from which the largest number of reports of suspected cases and deaths due to dengue fever are received.
The World Health Organization said that there are about 76,768 suspected cases, including 271 deaths, recorded last year across Yemen, but the numbers have begun to decline in recent weeks.
“Dengue cases started in mid-November … Over time, the number of cases decreased in rural areas, but it increased inside the city,” said Ahmed Mujam, a doctor at Al-Thawra Hospital in Hodeidah.
Abdul Rahman Jarallah, head of the health directorate in Hodeidah, said that authorities in parts of the city controlled by the Houthi group allied with Iran fill pools of stagnant water with soil so that they are not fertile soil for mosquitoes to breed.
But areas on the frontlines are difficult to reach, and most cases in Hodeidah come from these areas, according to the World Health Organization. Advice is given to the housing communities there, about ways in which they can come up with themselves to reduce mosquito breeding.
“We receive reports of deaths every day in remote areas (from Hodeidah),” Save the Children said last week about dengue fever.