Yemen’s public sector has been pushed to “a breaking point”, as the country enters its fifth year of conflict, prompting the closure of half of the country’s health facilities. As of 11 September, 1,095,072 health consultations were provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of its emergency lifesaving services and support to the health sector to ensure it continues to operate in the war-battered country.
Over 19,000 people received psychosocial counselling, 113,000 others received reproductive health consultations, and more than 71,000 were part of health awareness-raising activities.
Public health facilities were already strained before the onset of Yemen’s crisis in 2015. Now, people must travel long distances for essential services, while some are forced to go without.
Further, dried up financial resources and a lack of health professionals has catalyzed the problem, while the number of people seeking medical assistance continues to rise in certain areas, overwhelming health centres.
The country’s humanitarian situation remains the worst in the world, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Around 80 per cent of the population is in need of some kind of assistance, roughly 24 million people, and some 14.4 million find themselves in acute need, nearly two million more than just one year ago.
In it’s latest monthly update on the situation, the agency cited examples of health centres rendered inoperable due a swell in fighting, with expecting mothers turned away from hospitals not equipped to handle births.
One woman living in Birali, Lahj governorate, where IOM helped re-establish the local health centre recalled that before the centre was running again, “we had to travel to Hadramout or Aden”, approximately 120 and 450 kilometeres away, respectively. “A women in labour couldn’t do that”, she added.
IOM is supporting restoration and operational needs of 86 facilities across the country to help ensure Yemenis have access to effective, safe, and free health care, through over 120,000 consultations every month.
To reach migrants and displaced persons unable to access traditional health facilities, the organisation also operates nine mobile health teams, four of which provide newly-arrived migrants with emergency health services along Yemen’s coast.
Warehouses around the country store stockpiles of critical medicines, antibiotics or disease management medications to ensure a constant supply.
IOM’s Health Programme Coordinator in Yemen, Dr. Nedal Odeh said that with health needs rising, and many people living in places “with virtually no health services,” the organisation’s aid to conflict-affected communities “is vital to the continuation of accessible health services and strengthening of the overall health system in Yemen.”