Yemen: medical services collapse

Yemen: medical services collapse

Half the country now has no healthcare provision due to the fighting, while aid is stuck in Djibouti.

2 min read
15 July, 2015
[FILE PICTURE] Pro Hadi fighters guard Aden airport, March 2015. [Getty]

The Yemeni Ministry of Public Health has said that half the country’s governorates are medical disaster areas, with healthcare services having completely collapsed and the ministry being unable do anything about it because of the the war and blockade.

The statement was carried by the Yemeni news agency Saba, which is run by the Huthis, and confirmed that health services hade effectively ceased in the 10 governorates that have seen the heaviest fighting, namely Aden, Lahij, Sa'da, Ta'izz, Hajja, Dhale', Bayda, Shabwa, Marib and al-Jawf.

According to the news agency's source at the ministry: “The suspension of medical services in these governorates is due to a lack of medical supplies, equipment and medicines and the departure of most foreign medical staff -- doctors, technicians and nurses.” The source called on all international humanitarian organisations to act quickly as millions of lives were now at risk.

No beds, no aid

Saba news agency said: “Despite the UN’s announcement of a truce this week to allow humanitarian assistance and urgent medical aid into the country, no aid has come.” It explained that this was because of delays in allowing in aid currently held up in Djibouti.

The source at the ministry also said that there were no intensive case beds available in any hospital in Yemen. “Five people have died in ambulances over the past few days due to the unavailability of intensive care beds, public and private, anywhere in the country.” And those intensive care units that were still in operation were suffering from a severe lack of medical personnel. Foreign staff have left the country, while local staff have been working without pay for the past three months.

A source working for an international medical organisation in Yemen, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the most recent reports by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs made no mention of any obstacles to the delivery of foreign aid and in fact talked about a backlog of aid in Djibouti. The problem, said the source, was the insecurity at Yemeni ports, especially Aden, and the risk to crews and aid workers.

The Health Ministry says that 52 medical facilities have been destroyed in the fighting, including 37 hospitals and clinics, as well as laboratories and warehouses. Twenty four ambulances have been destroyed, resulting in the death of a number of paramedics.