Yemen: UN agency warns of deteriorating health situation amid ongoing fighting

A WHO shipment of 17 tonnes of medicines, medical and surgical supplies arrives in Sana’a, Yemen. Photo: WHO Yemen

21 April 2015 – The health situation in Yemen is steadily deteriorating as escalating hostilities impede civilian access to critical health services, according to a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Briefing reporters in Geneva earlier today, WHO’s Tarik Jašarevic said sources within Yemen’s Ministry of Health were warning about the possible collapse of health services as clinics and hospitals around the country struggle to function while facing medicine and health supply shortages.

Power cuts and fuel shortages were also threatening to disrupt the UN agency’s ongoing vaccine operation, he said, leaving millions of children under the age of five unvaccinated and at increased risk of communicable diseases like measles and polio.

In addition, limited access to safe water has also led to a spike in cases of bloody diarrhoea in children below five, as well as increased cases of measles and suspected malaria.

Before the current conflict exploded, Yemen was ranked 50th out of 194 countries in terms of highest under five mortality rate which, he said, added to the burden already facing the country's children.

According to the UN’s overview of the situation on the ground, the fighting in Yemen has steadily escalated in recent weeks, spreading throughout the country and into urban areas and residential neighbourhoods.

Civilian infrastructure has reportedly been destroyed as airstrikes and shelling have hit hospitals, schools, airports and mosques. At the same time, reports of serious human rights violations being committed are also emerging.

Mr. Jašarevic also warned that as of 17 April health facilities across the country had reported 944 deaths and 3,487 injured – a significant increase in casualty figures since the last reporting period.


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