Tag Archives: WHO

Yemen’s cholera epidemic surpasses half-million suspected cases, UN agency says

At the Al Sab’een Hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, a doctor checks on a girl suffering from cholera. UNICEF/Fuad

14 August 2017

More than 500,000 people in Yemen are suspected of having cholera, the United Nations health agency today said, warning that the disease is spreading quickly due to a lack of clean water or health access.

“Yemen’s cholera epidemic, currently the largest in the world, has spread rapidly due to deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions and disruptions to the water supply across the country,” the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

Nearly 2,000 people have died since the outbreak began at the end of April, the UN agency added.

It blames a collapsing health system, a lack of clean water, and a build-up of human waste, which is not being collected in major cities.

Shortages in medicines and supplies is “persistent and widespread,” WHO said, adding that health workers have not been paid in nearly a year.

“Yemen’s health workers are operating in impossible conditions,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response – without them we can do nothing in Yemen. They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives.”

The UN is supporting partners to set up cholera treatment clinics, rehabilitate health facilities, deliver medical supplies, and support national health response efforts.

In his statement, Mr. Tedros called for a political solution to the conflict in Yemen.

Yemen’s health system another victim of the conflict – UN health agency

Al-Olofi Hospital in Al-Hudaydah, Yemen. Photo: WHO/Sadeq Al-WesabiYEMEN

23 February 2017

Acute shortage of critical medicines, limited fuel for electricity and specialized medical staff such as intensive care doctors and nurses having left Yemen have put innocent lives in danger, the United Nations health agency has warned.

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), only 45 per cent of the country’s health facilities remain fully functional and accessible and at least 274 have been damaged or destroyed during the conflict.

On top of this, drastic budget cuts have left health facilities without funds for operational costs and health care workers without regular salaries since September 2016.

One such example is the 320-bed Al-Thawra Hospital, the main functioning health facility in Al-Hudaydah (Yemen’s third largest city) and neighbouring governorates. Many health facilities in the area have already closed.

Staffed by more than 1,200 employees – many of whom have not received their salaries for the past five months – the hospital provides care to some 1,500 people every day. This is a five-fold increase over the numbers in 2012 due to the influx of people displaced by ongoing conflict.

Most of the patients who arrive are unable to pay the minimal fees for hospital services.

Despite this, no one is turned away from Al-Thawra Hospital and medical staff provide care to everyone, regardless of whether they can afford to pay, noted the WHO news release. Recently, however, the hospital had to stop providing food for inpatients due to lack of funds.

But there are fears that recent arrivals of thousands of displaced women, men and children in the governorate could overburden the already weakened health facilities and vulnerable host communities.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) assists us by providing fuel and medicines for emergency interventions, and supporting the hospital’s therapeutic feeding centre,” said Khaled Suhail, Director of Al-Tharwa Hospital.

“However, with no funds for operational costs, we never know if we will still be open one month from now,” he added.

A collapsing health system

According to WHO, since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, health facilities across Yemen have reported more than 7,600 deaths and close to 42,000 people injured.

Malnutrition rates are also rising: almost 4.5 million people in Yemen, including 2 million children, require services to treat or prevent malnutrition, a 150 per cent increase since late 2014.

Of special concern are almost 462 000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and at risk of life-threatening complications such as respiratory infections or organ failure, said WHO.

And with severely limited budgets, things might get worse.

“With more than 14.8 million people lacking access to basic health care, the current lack of funds means the situation will get much worse,” said Nevio Zagaria, WHO Acting Representative in Yemen.

Responding to the crisis, the UN agency has established 15 therapeutic feeding centres in seven governorates, and plans to open 25 more as the numbers of malnourished children increases across the country, but its efforts are challenged by lack of funds.

“We are asked to fill gaps created by the collapsing health institutions,” noted Dr. Zagaria, adding: “[however] last year, [we] received less than half of the $124 million required.”

In 2017, UN agencies in the country and non-governmental organizations have appealed for $322 million to support health care in Yemen, of this amount WHO has requested $126 million.

“We urgently need resources to help support the health system as a whole, and are calling on donors to scale-up their support before more innocent lives are lost unnecessarily,” underscored Dr. Zagaria.

 

UN health agency calls for funding, access to Yemenis as conflict rages for second year

Dr. Hussein Alawi, on his way to give free medical care to families that can't make it to hospitals in Yemen. Intensive fighting and bombing has cut off access to health care for many people across the country. Photo: UNICEF/UNI187340/Alawi

Dr. Hussein Alawi, on his way to give free medical care to families that can’t make it to hospitals in Yemen. Intensive fighting and bombing has cut off access to health care for many people across the country. Photo: UNICEF/UNI187340/Alawi

28 March 2016

As the conflict in Yemen this week enters its second year, the United Nations health agency is calling for additional funding and access to the more than 80 per cent of the population in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

“Despite our efforts so far, much more needs to be done to respond to the health needs of people in Yemen,” said Dr. Ala Alwan, World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

He voiced concern about the limited funding for the health sector, which so far only received six per cent of its 2016 requirements.

Dr. Alwan also reminded “all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to facilitate humanitarian access to all areas of Yemen, and respect the safety of health workers and health facilities already working under extremely challenging conditions.”

The health situation in Yemen had been challenging before the current conflict, but further deteriorated under the ongoing violence which has forced one-quarter of all health facilities to shut down due to damages or shortages of staff, medicine or other resources.

Some 19 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation, placing them at risk of infectious diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera, WHO cautioned.

In addition, more than 14 million Yemenis are in need of urgent health services, including more than 2 million acutely malnourished children and pregnant or lactating women requiring treatment.

Calling the health needs in Yemen “vast,” Dr. Alwan highlighted some of the positive ways in which the UN agency and partners have been able to reach people in need.

“We sent life-saving medicines and supplies via boat when roads were blocked, and we transported safe water to health facilities by animals due to lack of fuel,” he said, noting that 450 tonnes of life-saving medicines and supplies were delivered, along with one million liters of fuel to hospitals and 20 million liters of water to health facilities and camps hosting internally displaced persons.

The UN agency and partners were also able to provide mental health services through mobile medical teams and mobile clinics. They also vaccinate some five million children under the age of five against polio and 2.4 million children under the age of 15 against measles and rubella.

UN health agency delivers medical aid inside Yemen’s Taiz city after blocked entry

Girls fetching water in Mawyah district, Taiz. This role often falls on the shoulders of girls and young women, often at the expense of their education. Credit: OCHA

Girls fetching water in Mawyah district, Taiz. This role often falls on the shoulders of girls and young women, often at the expense of their education. Credit: OCHA

10 February 2016

Following months of blocked access to the Yemeni city of Taiz, and in response to mounting emergency health needs, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today it has successfully delivered more than 20 tonnes of life-saving medicines and medical supplies to meet the most urgent needs of those with limited access to humanitarian aid.

The health supplies, which had been blocked from entering the city for eight weeks, were delivered to Al-Thawra, Al-Jumhoori, Al-Rawdha and Al-Ta’aon hospitals as of 31 January, WHO said in a press release.

“Hospital staff in Taiz City are desperate for medicines and medical supplies so that they can continue to offer the most basic medical care. The delivery of these WHO supplies is a huge step that we are hoping will pave the way for the provision of more medical support to the city,” said Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, WHO representative in Yemen.

The supplies include trauma kits, interagency emergency health kits, diarrhoeal disease kits and 170 oxygen cylinders, enough for about 35,000 beneficiaries. In addition, dialysis solutions were facilitated to Al-Thawra Hospital for 30,000 dialysis sessions for one year.

WHO said that three districts in Taiz – Al Mudhaffar, Al Qahirah and Salah – still remain inaccessible and people are in urgent need of food, safe water and life-saving health services. Many hospitals have been forced to close their intensive care units due to a lack of fuel, medicines and health staff, and patients with chronic medical issues such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer are struggling to access essential medicines and dialysis centres.

Shortages in food have led to a significant increase in prices, with many people now unable to afford basic food items, resulting in increased risk of malnutrition, especially in children, WHO said. The main wells providing safe drinking-water have shut down due to interruptions in power supplies and a lack of fuel for generators.

WHO added that earlier this week, an aid plane landed in Sana’a airport with an additional 40 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies, which will be distributed where they are most needed across the country.

“It is vital that WHO and partners are given unrestricted access to all people in need, so that they can be urgently provided with life-saving health care,” Dr. Shadoul stressed.

Since April 2015, ongoing violence and insecurity in Yemen continues to limit the delivery of aid to Taiz. In recent weeks, the UN has made repeated calls to all sides to allow humanitarian access to Taiz and all other besieged areas throughout the country where civilians have been deprived of the basic necessities of life.

Following months of blocked access, WHO medical supplies reach Taiz City, Yemen

Supplies_reach_Taiz_City_YemenSana’a, 10 February 2016

Following months of blocked access to Taiz City, Yemen, and in response to mounting emergency health needs, the World Health Organization (WHO) has successfully delivered more than 20 tonnes of life-saving medicines and medical supplies. These medical supplies are critical to meet the most urgent needs in a city where more than 200 000 people continue to live under siege with limited access to humanitarian aid.

The health supplies, which had been blocked from entering the city for 8 weeks, were finally delivered to Al-Thawra, Al-Jumhoori, Al-Rawdha and Al-Ta’aon hospitals as of 31 January. The supplies include trauma kits, interagency emergency health kits, diarrhoeal disease kits and 170 oxygen cylinders, enough for around 35 000 beneficiaries. Additionally, dialysis solutions were facilitated to Al-Thawra Hospital for 30 000 dialysis sessions for one year.

“Hospital staff in Taiz City are desperate for medicines and medical supplies so that they can continue to offer the most basic medical care. The delivery of these WHO supplies is a huge step that we are hoping will pave the way for the provision of more medical support to the city,” said Dr Ahmed Shadoul, WHO Representative in Yemen.

Since April 2015, the ongoing violence and insecurity continues to limit the delivery of aid in Taiz City. 3 districts in Taiz City — Al Mudhaffar, Al Qahirah and Salah — still remain inaccessible and people are in urgent need of food, safe water and life-saving health services. Many hospitals have been forced to close their intensive care units due to a lack of fuel, medicines and health staff. Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer are struggling to access essential medicines and dialysis centres.

Shortages in food have led to a significant increase in prices, with many people now unable to afford basic food items, resulting in increased risk of malnutrition, especially in children. The main wells providing safe drinking-water have shut down due to interruptions in power supply and a lack of fuel for generators.

“Earlier this week, an aid plane landed in Sana’a airport with an additional 40 tonnes of WHO medicines and medical supplies. These supplies will be distributed to where they are most needed across the country. It is vital that WHO and partners are given unrestricted access to all people in need, so that they can be urgently provided with life-saving health care,” said Dr Shadoul.

WHO Regional Director’s statement on urgent and immediate access into Taiz City for delivery of health supplies

14 January 2016

Despite repeated calls for immediate access to meet urgent health needs throughout Yemen, the World Health Organization continues to be unable to deliver life-saving medicines and medical supplies in many parts of the country.

Access to meet the health needs of the population of Taiz city is of particular concern. For the last 4 weeks, since 14 December, trucks have been blocked from delivering WHO life-saving medicines to address needs in trauma care and the treatment of diarrhoea, as well as other health supplies, including 500 cylinders of oxygen. These medical supplies are urgently needed by 6 public hospitals in the city.

This lack of access affects the health of almost 250 000 people in the city. WHO has tried to find alternative routes through neighbouring Aden and Lahj governorates to deliver the supplies, but this has also been unsuccessful due to security concerns.

I call on all parties to facilitate the safe and immediate passage of medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance to Taiz City and to all areas in Yemen where people are in urgent need of aid.

Dr Ala Alwan
WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean

Yemen: UN health agency appeals for immediate access for vital medicines to besieged city

Medical supplies are uploaded to truck . Photo: WHO Yemen

Medical supplies are uploaded to truck . Photo: WHO Yemen

7 January 2016

With more than 250,000 people living under virtual siege in strife-torn Yemen’s central city of Taiz since November and convoys of life-saving medicines blocked, the United Nations health agency today called on all factions to allow immediate unconditional access.

“In times of crisis, it is vital that health facilities remain functional and provide people in need with uninterrupted access to life-saving medical care,” the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said in a news release, citing the deteriorating health situation in Taiz, where the city’s six hospitals are overwhelmed with injured patients and have been forced to partially close services.

“Humanitarian organizations are struggling to deliver medical and surgical supplies due to the insecurity,” it added in the latest of a series of appeals calling for humanitarian access. “Five WHO trucks carrying medicines and medical supplies have been prevented from entering the city since 14 December 2015.

“The trucks contain trauma medicines, medicines for the treatment of diarrhoea, and other health supplies that urgently need to be delivered to Al-Thawra, Al-Jumhoori, Al-Rawdha and Al-Mudhaffar Hospitals. Three of the trucks are carrying 500 cylinders of oxygen that are critically needed by the hospitals.

“WHO calls on all parties involved in the conflict to allow the secure movement and delivery of medical and humanitarian aid to all people, regardless of their location.”

Last month, WHO reported delivering more than 100 tonnes of medicines and supplies for 1.2 million people in Taiz governorate, where over 3 million people, almost 400,000 of them internally displaced, are in dire need of humanitarian aid.

But it said distribution of an additional 22 tonnes of medical aid to five health facilities in Taiz City was on hold due to access issues.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been trying to broker peace talks between the various factions to end the fighting that has torn the country apart over the past year, but he adjourned them last month until mid-January to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to secure full adherence to a ceasefire.

WHO delivers medical aid for 1.2 million people in Taiz, Yemen during ceasefire

yemen_medical_aid_december_201524 December 2015, Sana’a, Yemen

The World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered more than 100 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies for more than one million beneficiaries in eight districts of Taiz governorate, where more than 3 million people, including 392,000 internally displaced persons, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The health supplies, which were delivered following the announcement of the ceasefire, consist of urgently needed oxygen cylinders, medicines and medical devices, including surgical supplies and equipment for the management of trauma cases. These supplies have been distributed to 13 hospitals and health centers, and have replenished the local health department’s contingency stock for future needs.

“The health situation in Taiz has increasingly deteriorated. Shortages in health staff, medicines and fuel, as well as limited access by the humanitarian community due to the insecurity, have caused many health facilities in the governorate to shut down,” said WHO Representative in Yemen, Dr Ahmed Shadoul. “We are calling on all parties to guarantee unrestricted, long-term delivery of humanitarian aid and unconditional movement of health workers.”

The distribution of an additional 22 tonnes of medical aid to five health facilities in Sala, Al-Qahera and Al-Mudhaffar districts of Taiz City is on hold due to access issues. WHO is negotiating with all parties to the conflict and advocating for unconditional access of medicines and supplies to these three districts, where 400,000 people are in critical need of humanitarian assistance.

“WHO is deeply concerned about the continuous lack of humanitarian access to Taiz City, depriving people from basic health care and violating their essential human rights. WHO re-emphasizes the crucial need for uninterrupted delivery of health services and calls upon all concerned parties to respect the basic rights of all Yemenis to access health care services,” said Dr Shadoul

 

Yemen: UN envoy adjourns peace talks till January pending enforcement of a proper ceasefire

20 December 2015

In the face of numerous violations of the cessation of hostilities in Yemen, the Special United Nations Envoy today decided to adjourn peace talks in Switzerland for a month to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to achieve a ceasefire.

“Given the centrality of the cessation of hostilities to the success of talks, the Special Envoy has elected to adjourn the talks until the middle of January 2016,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a communiqué.

“In order to ensure adherence to the cessation of hostilities and enable sustainability, the Special Envoy judges that additional bilateral consultations will be required in Yemen and in the region in the coming weeks. The Special Envoy shall continue to work with the parties to identify and implement confidence-building measures that will help build respect for a durable ceasefire and peace process.”

The conflict between the factions has worsened Yemen’s already poor food situation, adding over 3 million people to the ranks of the hungry in less than a year, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reported, with 7.6 million people severely food insecure – a level that requires urgent, external, food aid.

Last week, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners today appealed for $31 million to ensure the continuity of medical services for nearly 15 million Yemenis following the collapse of the country’s health system.

In his communiqué, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed cited the parties’ constructive engagement in the UN-facilitated talks, but said progress was affected by numerous violations of the cessation of hostilities.

“Despite this, the parties made serious progress through identifying a framework for negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement, in addition to defining a set of relevant confidence-building measures relating to prisoner release, improved social services and improving the flow of humanitarian aid to Taiz (central Yemen) and other Yemeni governorates,” it said.

He noted that the parties agreed to develop a package of confidence-building measures including a mechanism for the release of prisoners to include all detainees and prisoners once a permanent ceasefire is in place, to establish a Co-ordination and De-escalation Committee of military advisors from both sides, facilitated by the UN, and to lift all forms of blockade and allow safe and rapid access for humanitarian supplies.

The participants also agreed to a negotiating framework for a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict and allow the resumption of inclusive political dialogue, to continue the work of the Coordination and De-escalation Committee and identify a suitable location for it in the region, to meet again for a second round of UN-facilitated talks, and to ensure a greater involvement of women in the talks.

“The Special Envoy wishes to commend the participants for the work so far undertaken and plans to convene the next round of these talks on 14 January 2016,” the communiqué concluded.

Yemen: as cyclone weakens, UN warns more than 1 million people could be impacted by flooding

Cyclone Chapala damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

Cyclone Chapala damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF Yemen/Ahmed Tani

4 November 2015

While the United Nations is reporting that Cyclone Chapala – the rare tropical storm that slammed into Yemen’s southern coast yesterday, dumping perhaps a year’s worth of rain in some areas – is expected to weaken to a tropical depression over the next 12 hours, the immediate concern remains the welfare of an estimated 1 million people, mainly in the two governorates of Shabwah and Hadramaut.

“The UN and its partners are using all available routes into the affected areas to deliver assistance: from Aden as the principle dispatch hub and Sana’a as an alternate; and from Djibouti by sea and from the east from Oman by road and sea,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

He also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided 20,000 litres of diesel fuel to eight hospitals in Mukallah – the country’s fifth largest city – and 2,500 litres of petrol for 16 ambulances.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO surveillance rapid response teams are also being deployed and a WHO shipment by sea with an additional 18.3 metric tonnes of medical supplies and reproductive health kits is also being deployed from Djibouti to Aden.

Meanwhile, three deaths and 34 injuries were reported earlier by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Cyclone Chapala made landfall in Yemen while fighting between the Government and rebel Houthi forces in the country continues. Since March 2015, the crisis has been an all-out conflict, with a military operation launched by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Armed conflict has spread rapidly across much of the country, with devastating consequences for civilians. Partners now estimate that 21.1 million people – 80 per cent of the population – require some form of humanitarian protection or assistance. This represents a 33 per cent increase in needs since the conflict began, says OCHA.

The UN relief wing’s most recent update notes that the storm’s impact will be most severe in Shabwah and Hadramaut governorates. “These two governorates have a combined population of about 1.9 million people, 76 per cent (1.4 million) of whom are already in need of humanitarian assistance according to the 2015 Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview.”

“Initial reports suggest more than 40,000 people displaced or temporarily evacuated from coastal areas and at least 450 homes damaged or destroyed,” OCHA said in the update.

Based on reports from Socotra, three people died and nine were injured in the flooding. At the same, some 20,000 people were reportedly evacuated from coastal areas, and close to 400 homes have been destroyed. Officials in Shabwah also reported that 6,000 people had moved to higher ground to avoid anticipated flooding and potential rock falls.

“Meteorologists forecast the Chapala will weaken as it continues north-west towards the capital Sana’a,” notes the update, adding that “sustained winds of 118 km/h are expected and the trailing edge of the storm system will continue to bring heavy precipitation to coastal areas for the next 24 to 48 hours.”

According to OCHA, UN Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has prepositioned stocks and has launched a response to the severe impact in Yemen. “A number of different aid delivery routes into the affected areas are being utilized.” HCT indicated that in the report.

The HCT has primarily been moving supplies from existing stockpiles in Aden along the coastal roads to Mukalla. They will use supplies from the Humanitarian Response Depot (HRD) in Dubai and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) in Oman to the coastal area.