Cancer kills the Citizens of Al-Sareeh in Lahj

More than 30 cases of infection in a few years
Suhail Al-Sharihi
March 3, 2023

Cancer kills the Citizens of Al-Sareeh in Lahj

More than 30 cases of infection in a few years
Suhail Al-Sharihi
March 3, 2023
© Khuyut

Between the walls of the house, on his death bed, Saif Hassan (a resident of Al-Sareeh area in Lahj governorate) is spending the rest of his painful life, after suffering a tumor in his right foot. The swelling turned his life and his family into an unbearable hell, due to his cancer, which was exacerbated by the difficult living conditions and complexity and bitterness of poverty.

Saif Hassan recounts part of his suffering to "Khuyut", saying that: "After I had a tumor in my foot, my life completely deteriorated for the worse, as I was unable to provide daily sustenance for my family which consists of three children, their mother and me."

He added that: “I used to work before my infection in herding sheep, for a small amount of money, to preserve my dignity and the self-respect of my family, but now, after my contamination, I am unable to continue shepherding, which exacerbated our living situation completely as a result of my deficiency to work or providing anything, no matter how tiny, even the cancer medications I can't afford buying it."

The World Health Organization says that chronic diseases are responsible for 57% of all deaths in Yemen. Cancer is likely to hit all age groups in the country, with 60% of those aged between 30 and 60 years old, at a time when cancer prevention is key.

A serious epidemic

Cancer has become a threat to thousands of residents of the Al-Sareeh area located in the Lahj governorate, 120 km north from the center of the governorate. Hundreds of citizens have been infected with cancer, amidst the citizens' distraught understanding of the causes for the outbreak and eruption of this epidemic.

Dr. Ali Saleh, the director of the health unit in the Al-Sareeh area, confirms to "Khuyut" that dozens of citizens from the Al-Sareeh district in Lahj governorate have been diagnosed with cancer, which made this strange spread an issue that preoccupies the people and confuses doctors and the community at large.

Moreover, Saleh reveals that the number of cancer cases in this area has exceeded (30) cases, most of which have died, distributed among tumors in the ovaries, glands, uterus, and other parts of the body.

Most of these infections are also spread among women, as some of these cases died while receiving treatment, while others died in their homes because they were unable to pay the costs of medications and the required doses.

According to the director of the health unit in Al-Sareeh district, a special field team must be dispatched to identify this strange phenomenon, with the aim of exploring the causes behind its expansion, in order to urge the people to take the necessary measures to prevent cancer infection.

Further, he continued pointing out the miserable situation of most of the infected patients by saying: "Most of the infected people live without work or receive - at best - limited wages, which exacerbates the deterioration of their health conditions, especially in light of the absence of government support and the scarcity of supporters."

Although the health unit in Al-Sareeh lacks the most basic health resources and medical equipment, it has contributed to guiding many people suspected of having cancer to quickly go to the designated health facilities for early detection, according to Saleh.

On the other hand, the citizens of Al-Sareeh district had appealed to the health office in the governorate and the Ministry of Health to organize some field visits to the infected areas to investigate and identify the causes of the spread of this disease, as well as conducting health research, and to follow up on the alarming situation in order to put the sound measures to confront this disease or reduce its expansion.

Lack of Resources to contain the epidemic 

The population of the Al-Sareeh district of ​​Lahj Governorate is estimated at about 250000 persons. Most of them depend mainly on agriculture and shepherding, especially grazing camels and cows, while they depend on drinking water from wells and ponds.

According to the World Health Organization; Cancer should not be considered a death sentence, but in Yemen it has become the case, as many Yemenis cannot afford treatment, and are forced to stay in their homes without medications, waiting for death that might stop their pain.

Additionally, about 35,000 patients suffer from cancer in Yemen, according to the World Health Organization statistics, with an increase of about 20% compared to the number of infected cases before the war, of whom more than 1,000 children. That's roughly 12% of the 11,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the country.

Furthermore, the National Cancer Center in Aden confirms that the number of cases the center has received since its establishment has reached 78,000, of which 37,000 cases have been recorded during the past few years.

However, authorities and agencies concerned with cancer patients in Yemen complain of an acute shortage of medicines for treating cancer patients, which are not available in the local markets, especially targeted and chemical cancer drugs.

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