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“The results of our study serve as a call to action, emphasizing the need to address the devastating consequences of conflict on public health, particularly in regions like Yemen, where cholera remains a major concern,” says Maia C. Tarnas, UCI Program in Public Health Ph.D. candidate. UCI Program in Public Health

A study led by UCI has discovered a significant link between conflict, as measured by air raid severity, and the incidence of cholera in Yemen between 2016 and 2019. During that time, Yemen was facing recorded history’s largest cholera outbreak. The findings, published online today in The Lancet Global Health, show that after adjusting for a variety of economic, environmental and other relevant variables, the association between conflict and cholera remained evident at all conflict levels. The ecological model used by researchers analyzed the intensity of air raids, ranging from low to severe, and found that areas with severe levels of air raids had over twice the risk of cholera than did areas with low levels. Air raids cause a variety of problems, including destruction of critical infrastructure, reduction of available water resources, limited transportation capabilities and insufficient resources to promptly treat cholera cases. “Our research demonstrates that cholera in Yemen cannot be isolated from the ongoing conflict and sheds light on the weaponization of health by warring parties,” said corresponding author Maia C. Tarnas, a Ph.D. candidate in UCI’s Program in Public Health. Other team members were Daniel M. Parker, UCI associate professor of population health & disease prevention; Najwa Al-Dheeb, a nutrition specialist with the Public Health Network in Aden, Yemen; and Muhammad H. Zaman, professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University.