COVID-19 in Yemen: Attempting to mitigate an ongoing medical collapse

Yemeni health worker checks a man’s temperature using an infrared thermometer at the entrance of a local hospital Yemeni health worker checks a man’s temperature using an infrared thermometer at the entrance of a local hospital Mohammed/Xinhua/ PA Images

25 May 2020

The lack of testing capacity accompanied with a high viral transmission is leaving Yemen desperate for more humanitarian aid

The current global pandemic has pushed Yemen’s already weakened health system over its capacity. The lack of resources, and persistent inner state conflicts, cause the effects of the health crisis on the population to be far worse compared to other neighbouring nations. According to Jen Larke, the spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) the Yemeni health system had officially collapsed. This was reflected as he told press officials that U.N staff members were being forced to send people away, because they did not have enough ventilators, nor sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Word Health Organization’s (WHO) current data states that Yemen has 184 Covid-19 cases with 30 total deaths. However, the same OCHA spokesperson warned that due to the minimal amount of testing being conducted, the actual figures must be much higher. Medical authorities are also backing Larke’s claim on the premise that a “large scale community transmission” is occurring in Yemeni cities, while only 50% of the health facilities across the nation are operating, an exceptionally low percentage. The main risks include the closure of over 30 vital U.N programmes that operate in Yemen which are essential to ensure communities with water, health, and sanitation.

To avoid these closures, both the U.N and Saudi Arabia propose to do a virtual pledging event to reach a goal of two billion euros in aid relief to fund programmes like the Rapid Response Teams, that as of now only have funding for up to six more weeks. This aid would also provide the means to acquire more respirators and PPE. Additionally, a U.N plane landed in Aden, the Yemeni capital, with more international staff on board with the mission to alleviate the lack of staff members. Furthermore, the U.N special envoy Martin Griffiths urged Yemeni war factions to put arms aside and work together in pro of the nation amidst the pandemic.  


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Author: Sergio Gomez

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