Preying on the Most Vulnerable

Diphtheria is spreading swiftly among Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with more than 110 suspected cases and 6 deaths, the WHO reported yesterday.

Warning that these cases could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” WHO Representative Navaratnasamy Paranietharan described “an extremely vulnerable population with low vaccination coverage, living in conditions that could be a breeding ground for infectious diseases like cholera, measles, rubella, and diphtheria.”

Indonesia, also battling a fierce diphtheria outbreak, reported a sharp 42% increase in cases over last year—killing at least 32 people so far, according to Reuters.

The news follows the WHO’s recent reports of the disease’s alarming comeback in Yemen, highlighting how it often accompanies conflict and crisis.

Laurie Garrett minced no words in a Nov. 24 Tweet: “State-by-state the tally of 100% #vaccine preventable #Diphtheria cases is mounting across #Venezuela. This is a marker for State Failure.”

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