Yemen government seeks UN support to revive healthcare sector

May 18, 2020

As the war-ravaged Yemen grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic woes, the fragile health system and limited availability of medical supplies are adding to the worries for the local authorities across the cities. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Maeen Abdul malik, the Yemeni government has urged the United Nations to provide measures for reviving the healthcare system in the country.

Recently, PM Abdulmalik held a virtual meeting with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, UN Resident Coordinator Lise Grande, and WHO representative to Yemen Altaf Musani to discuss the ongoing public health emergency. During the meeting, Lise Grande asserted that the UN will collaborate with the government for prioritizing international assistance to respond to COVID-19 in the country. Furthermore, the Prime Minister highlighted the need for financial aid due to the lack of funding for the healthcare workers.

Dealing with Coronavirus, Yemen’s weak health system is being ravaged by multiple overlapping infectious disease outbreaks, such as cholera. Health care workers are on the frontline fighting to prevent the virus spread and protecting the infected citizens. According to media reports, the United Nations and other humanitarian partners to Yemen have been extending help in response to COVID-19 by focusing on risk communications and protecting the wider public health system. The WHO has already provided over 6500 test kits to Yemen, with more protective equipment and supplies on its way.

On May 12, Yemeni authorities announced Aden as an “infested” city amid soaring cases of COVID-19 infections and other diseases after flooding has further deteriorated the healthcare infrastructure in the city. According to WHO, there are approximately 113,000 suspected cases of cholera in the country since January. Moreover, the international health organization (WHO) recently declared a full-blown transmission of the novel Coronavirus in war-torn Yemen, asserting that the disease is spreading across the population with the lowest levels of immunity. WHO suggested that under the current scenario, half of Yemen’s population of approximately 30 million could be infected and more than 40,000 could die.

In the wake of these catastrophic developments, the Yemeni government has called on the global community for help in fighting the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses in various cities, particularly in the southern port city of Aden.

Keeping in view that Yemen is entering its sixth year of the war, the health system crisis is deepening with each passing day amid the ongoing health pandemic across the world. Water and sanitation systems have collapsed drastically. There is added fear of pandemic transmission among medical personnel due to a lack of protective equipment and basic amenities. The country lacks the much-needed COVID-19 testing capacity to check those suspected having the virus.

Meanwhile, as Coronavirus cases continue to rise. the local authorities across Yemen have imposed stricter lockdown restrictions such as extending curfews, closing markets, and banning large public gatherings during Ramadan in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. While official records (worldometers.info) suggest almost 125 Coronavirus infected cases in the entire country, there are media reports (according to a report by Reuters) suggesting that the authorities are undercounting cases in both the north and south regions.

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