How do you stop the world's worst cholera epidemic?
One way is to send volunteers door-to-door to tell people how they can avoid the disease and what to do if they suspect an infection.
That's what Faytha Ahmed Farj is doing. A 45-year-old mother of 9, Farj has never held a paying job but she's part of a nationwide campaign of volunteers fighting cholera.
Since April, more than 600,000 cases across Yemen have been reported. There was a time when so many sick people were arriving at the cholera center of Alsadaqah Hospital in southern Yemen that patients had to share beds. Health authorities say the numbers are the highest ever seen in one country. The deputy manager and head of the center, Nahla Arishi, was seeing some 300 people a day.
But the rampant spread of cholera has slowed in the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula. UNICEF says weekly cases have declined to 35,000 from a high of about 50,000. Nowadays, Arishi sees some 50 patients with signs of cholera in any given day. Humanitarian organizations can take credit for a lot of that success. But so can regular Yemenis like Farj.
She joined the effort after her eldest son caught the illness. She is one of more than 40,000 trained volunteers across the country who have been crisscrossing their cities and villages on foot in the hopes getting out the word on cholera prevention.
Cholera most commonly spreads when a person eats food or drinks water that has been contaminated by feces. It is curable yet can be fatal. And in Yemen, the epidemic stems from the civil war that began in 2014. Years of fighting between the Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shiite group and the Sunni government, along with airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia, have deteriorated the country's infrastructure. Thousands of civil workers stopped receiving salaries. Vital services ceased, like garbage collection and sewage treatment. Millions of Yemenis lack access to clean water, and more than half of their health facilities are shuttered.