UN: Yemen’s health system is collapsing

May 23, 2020

Yemen’s health system is collapsing, and coronavirus is spreading in the country: the UN reports today, extracting data from its various agencies and several humanitarian organizations operating in the battered Arab country. Humanitarian UN agencies consciously operate as the virus is spreading among the Yemeni people. Said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination (Ocha), in Geneva. “The situation is extremely alarming because they tell us that the health system has collapsed.”

Again, according to the UN manager, nurses and doctors in Yemen are forced not to accept patients because there is not enough oxygen and personal protective equipment.Despite the airdrop initiated for weeks to some cities, aid remains insufficient. According to Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), which manages clinics and hospitals in the southern region of Aden, 68 deaths have occurred in just two weeks for Covid-19. A figure that has increased strongly compared to previous weeks, and in any case, doubled compared to the numbers reported by Yemeni authorities.

Officially, 30 deaths and 184 positive cases were recorded in Yemen. But the country is divided by an internal war that for years has seen confrontations by insurgent militias close to Iran and their pro-Saudi rivals. Besides, another conflict is taking place in the south of the country, between the legitimate government loyalists and separatists. Heavy bombardment and airstrikes combined with continuous fighting, with few ceasefires allowing for humanitarian activity, have hampered citizens’ access to health care and increased the pressure on the health facilities that are still functioning.

Recent outbreaks of malaria and dengue were unusually large, health officials say, because tap-water supplies have been disrupted and people are collecting water in containers, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes. After many cases of dengue fever were reported in Aden, Hodeida and other governorates last month, the outbreak was brought under control, while a sharp increase of COVID-19 cases was reported in other cities.

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