Health crisis deepening, says WHO
WHO issued a statement late October saying ongoing violence and insecurity continues to limit the delivery of aid in Taiz governorate in Yemen, where more than 3.3 million people, including 300,585 internally displaced persons, are in critical need of health assistance.
“The situation in Taiz is alarming,” said WHO Representative in Yemen Dr Ahmed Shadoul. “Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians need life-saving medicines and health services, food, safe water and fuel. Humanitarian and health needs are increasing and the limited response we have been able to provide is not enough.”
In response, WHO has provided 30 metric tons of medicines and medical supplies to Taiz governorate in Yemen, suffi cient for 600,000 benefi ciaries, including 250,000 people inside Taiz City. The supplies include health kits, including surgical and trauma, diarrheal disease kits, Interagency Emergency Health Kits, and Mother and Child Health Kits. Oxygen cylinders, blood bags and other medical supplies were also distributed to six hospitals, three health centres and one health offi ce in six districts.
In addition, almost one million litres of water are being distributed to Taiz City by WHO, and water quality monitoring is being conducted to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.
Through collaboration with health authorities in Taiz and partner NGO the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, WHO has been controlling a dengue fever outbreak in the Governorate since earlier this year. The medicines that WHO has provided since early September include those used in supportive treatment for dengue fever; since March, more than 1,600 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Taiz governorate.
They have also distributed insecticidetreated mosquito nets, educated families on the causes of the diseases, conducted indoor spraying to disrupt breeding grounds Shortages of fuel and medicines have forced most health units in the villages to shut down, while some hospitals across the governorate have closed their intensive care units. Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer are unable to access life-saving essential medicines and dialysis centers due to limited access of health facilities and reduced functionality of others.
Shortages in food have led to a signifi cant increase in prices, with many people now unable to afford basic food items, resulting in increased risk of malnutrition, especially in children. The main water wells providing safe drinking have shut down due to interruptions in power supply and lack of fuel for generators.
“There is so much more we can do for the people of Taiz, but we need unrestricted access so that we can reach more people, and additional funding to allow us to scale up our response,” said Dr Shadoul. “Unless we are able to overcome these two challenges, more innocent lives are at risk. I call on all parties to the confl ict to allow delivering aid into Taiz, and for the international donor community to support our work. We urgently need US$60 million to continue our life-saving response operations across the country until the end of this year.”
Urgent action needed to prevent famine in Yemen
The lack of international action on the crisis in Yemen shows worrying parallels with the delayed response to the famine in Somalia that killed more than a quarter of a million people, Justine Greening, the UK’s International Development Secretary warned in September.
The Secretary set out a package of urgent support from the UK including 20 million pounds (US$30.8 million) in new life saving aid. And she highlighted the scale of the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which the UN has warned is now on the brink of famine, urging the international community to act before it is too late.
Justine Greening said: “The world cannot close its eyes to the threat of famine in Yemen. We need urgent action now to prevent thousands of needless deaths. Ultimately, only a ceasefi re and a durable political process can resolve this crisis. But in the short term there are practical steps that can and will save lives.
“We need imports of fuel, food and other vital supplies to fl ow into Yemen in much larger quantities. Aid agencies must get better access within Yemen so they can save lives. And other countries must follow our lead and step up with urgently needed new funding.
Ongoing fi ghting in Yemen is disrupting the delivery of essential fuel and food to those most in need, putting millions of lives at risk. Four out of every fi ve Yemenis – more than 80% of the population – are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and nearly 1.5 million people have been displaced by fi ghting. The UN has warned that across the country six million people face critical food shortages and that 96,000 children are now starving in Hodeidah alone.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US have also pledged funds. The funding will go to key partner agencies including the World Food Programme, UNICEF and NGOs operating on the ground via UN OCHA’s (Offi ce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund.
Date of upload: 16th Nov 2015
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