Yemen Update

Healthcare facilities struggle in face of conflict

Populations in the capital city of Sana’a and 13 of Yemen’s 22 governorates have been affected by the violence, and the escalation in conflict and violence has placed immense strain on health facilities and humanitarian healthcare providers, according to the Office of the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Communities across Yemen have been caught up in attacks and crossfire, endangering the lives and health of the young and old, and even people already displaced by violence,” according to Dr Ahmed Shadoul, WHO Representative in Yemen. In areas where violence is ongoing, some hospitals are functioning at minimum capacity. The country’s second largest hospital in Sana’a City has been partially evacuated due to its proximity to a military base, and full evacuation is expected to take place soon.

Hospitals in all affected governorates are in urgent need of oxygen supplies, medicines and supplies for treating trauma wounds, chronic diseases, life-saving equipment and medicines, additional health staff and additional bed capacity. Due to the violence, there are also concerns about the ability of ambulances and other vehicles to transport injured people to hospitals to receive care, as well as the availability of fuel for ambulances and hospital generators.

Supplies are expected to decrease further as local stocks run low and access to Yemen through airports and seaports remains closed.

WHO, in support of Yemen’s Ministry of Public Health and Population, is working with the International Committee for the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF France and Spain) and other partner organizations to ensure that patients receive the treatment they urgently need and that health facilities are provided with sufficient medicines and medical supplies.

Since the conflict escalated on 19 March, WHO has provided eight interagency health kits for 240,000 beneficiaries throughout the country from its warehouses in Sana’a, Aden and Hodeidah.

WHO has also provided trauma kits for 400 major operations, 11,000 blood bags, IV fluids, analgesics, oxygen supplies and dressing materials to 18 hospitals throughout the country, and is in the process of locally procuring an additional 10 trauma kits for the 1,000 major operations. With the closure of all airports and ports to Yemen, WHO is co-ordinating with the World Food Programme and UN partners to explore alternative solutions for the provision of additional medicines and medical kits from its humanitarian hub in Dubai.

Given the frequent power cuts in Aden, WHO is exploring options with the Ministry of Public Health and Population for locally procuring generator sets to maintain the cold chain for vaccines, although shortages in fuel are creating additional challenges. To ensure that referral services are available where needed most, WHO is co-ordinating with the Ministry to relocate ambulances to governorates with the largest numbers of injured patients. WHO is also covering the operational costs of the ambulances and installing GPS tracking devices in the vehicles to prevent their misuse.

Additional ambulances are also needed, according to the Ministry, and the WHO has pre-positioned additional interagency health kits and trauma kits in its humanitarian hub in Dubai for transporting to Yemen as soon as possible.

“We are in daily contact with the Ministry of Public Health and Population and all health partners on the ground in Yemen to monitor all gaps in healthcare services, and ensure that we are able to respond quickly. We have been able to fill most reported shortages for the time being, but the needs are huge and the sooner we are allowed to send additional supplies into the country without restrictions in access, the more lives we can save,” said Shadoul.

Healthcare workers killed

In a statement issued on 6 April, the WHO said it deplored the deaths of healthcare workers and damages to health facilities in Yemen as a result of the ongoing conflict, and expressed concern about the serious implications of these attacks.

On 4 April, two volunteer paramedics with the Yemen Red Crescent Society in Aden were shot when their ambulance was hit by gunfire. The paramedics, who were brothers, died from their injuries on their way to hospital. On 30 March, a volunteer ambulance driver with the Yemen Red Crescent Society was killed after his vehicle was hit by gunfire in Al Dhale’e in southern Yemen.

Three ambulances operated by the Ministry of Public Health and Population were taken by armed forces in Aden on 1-2 April and used for non-medical purposes. One security guard was killed and two nurses were injured in the health centre of Al-Mazraq camp for internally displaced persons in Haradh, Hajja Governorate.

The centre, which is operated by the health ministry and supported by WHO, was partially damaged. In Sana’a, the Science and Technology Hospital was hit by shrapnel on 1 April, resulting in injuries to three hospital employees and five family members of patients.

 Date of upload: 10th May 2015


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