The United Nations has declared the cholera outbreak in Yemen the world's worst. Since late April more than 320,000 people have fallen ill with the disease. That number will, in the coming weeks, surpass the population of Canberra.
"It hurts to watch," says Simon Cowie, who grew up in Higgins, and is now based in the capital of Yemen, Sana'a, as country director of International Medical Corps, a non-government organisation.
Mr Cowie, 30, co-ordinates the group's operations in Yemen - a war-ravaged country whose health system is fractured - from a property surrounded by fences, barbed wire and armed guards.
The man who still calls Canberra home studied paramedicine before he was diagnosed with a heart condition during recruitment that meant he was unable to work as a paramedic. He went on to complete masters degrees in international health and health management before travelling to volunteer in Cambodia.
In Yemen, Mr Cowie manages the organisation's support of health care facilities with staffing, supplies, training and refurbishments if they've been damaged in the war. With the cholera outbreak the organisation runs treatment centres and oral re-hydration points, where people can pick up packets of re-hydration salts.
Mr Cowie called the situation in Yemen dire.
"If you can imagine, there were issues with malnutrition before the conflict, add an extended and violent war to that and then add cholera," he says, speaking over the phone from Sana'a.
Cholera, a bacterial disease that can cause dehydration, is spread by the consumption of food or water contaminated with human waste.
The outbreak numbers in Yemen, a country of 25 million people, are staggering. Twenty per cent of the population in Sana'a have been affected. More than 1500 people have died in two months, though Mr Cowie says the disease shouldn't be fatal if treated properly.
There have been more than 320,000 new cases since late April.
"And we're getting five thousand new cases a day," he says, "so in the next few weeks it will surpass the population of Canberra."
Yemen carries its own challenges for Mr Cowie's work.
It is hard to get supplies in, and public systems are functioning at a lower level, including water treatment and waste clean-up.
People struggle to find safe drinking water and hospitals are damaged or understaffed and without supplies. "There's been a complete destruction of basic infrastructure," he says.
And the security risks are greater than most places in the world. Mr Cowie is escorted on every outing by armed guards. When they travel in cars they wear bullet proof vests.
He admits the country is a difficult place to operate.
"But the people themselves, the Yemeni people are just fantastic.
"They're incredibly resilient."
Mr Cowie believes the situation in Yemen to be much worse than in Iraq, where he also worked with the same organisation in Mosul, yet says Yemen suffered from a lack of global media attention. "This conflict has been going on longer, and is affecting millions of people. There are millions of people that are totally reliant on aid."
The lack of attention is difficult for the organisation too. "As a charity organisation we're totally reliant on donor funding, whether they are from individuals or from governments or foundations."
He wants most to communicate the severity of Yemen's situation.
"You know, it's the children that get affected and this isn't their choice, they don't have a say, they don't have the ability to make change. I just would like people to know just how serious it is here, and how great the people are."