Yemen Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 6 | Issued on 30 November 2015 [EN/AR]
Health system urgently requires additional support
Market disruptions and diminishing incomes negatively impact food security
UN humanitarian pooled fund releases US$14.9 million for 24 projects
Health system on the verge of collapse
System is struggling to provide care for those suffering from chronic diseases Over 14 million people in Yemen are unable to access adequate healthcare and the health system is in a state of collapse. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 600 of around 4,000 health facilities have stopped functioning due to a lack of fuel, supplies and personnel. Health facilities and staff are directly suffering from the impact of the conflict: according to WHO, at least 69 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, eight health workers have been killed and 20 injured since March.
With no domestic production of pharmaceuticals, Yemen’s healthcare system is reliant upon imports for essential medicines and equipment. Despite recent improvement in the quantity of imports, restrictions over the last few months have severely impacted the health sector. Shortages in the availability of essential medicine often mean that chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, go untreated.
“It is difficult to find medicine to treat cancer and burn wounds”, explained Dr. Nasr AlQadasi, general manager of Al Jumhouri Hospital in Sana’a, the second biggest hospital in the capital. “This includes anti-retroviral medication to treat HIV/Aids”. The absence of reliable electricity in many parts of the country puts an additional strain on health facilities that now rely on back-up generators to keep facilities functioning. “We are running our generators 24 hours a day since escalation of the conflict,” added Dr. Al-Qadasi. “We have been running our generators 24 hours a day since the onset of the conflict. We need much more fuel than before yet the price of fuel has doubled compared to preconflict levels.”
WHO and partners together with humanitarian organisations are assisting hospitals and health facilities with fuel and medical supplies. International organisations are also paying incentives to health workers and supporting the Ministry of Health. “Without the support of international organisations we would not be able to continue functioning”, explains Dr. AlQadasi.
The healthcare system urgently requires additional support. Every day, many patients travel to Sana’a seeking treatment, as many health facilities in other parts of the country are no longer functioning.
Waiting on the street for a hospital bed
Mohammad Atef waits impatiently, sheltering in a parking lot outside the Al Jumhori Hospital along with his cancer diagnosed wife and two children. His wife is in dire need of chemo-therapy and her only hope is few steps away from her. The endless tiring journey from his home town Sada’a just ended short of a hospital bed, ironically at the front entrance of the hospital. The children, who are too young to understand much of what is happening, are having some bread for lunch. Their mother is asleep on a blanket next to them. “This hospital is the only hope for cancer patients and we are waiting for a bed to become available for her, and until then, there is no other choice but to stay here in the parking lot.”
Responding to the large number of inpatient requests, the hospital administration has even converted offices into patient wards but the case load is overwhelming and unprecedented. “Despite our all efforts to upscale the institute to its maximum capacity, there is a never ending flow of patients reaching to us from very far and outreach areas”. Dr. Nasr AlQadasi,
General Manager of the city’s second biggest hospital expressed his concerns. “We are stretched to exhaustion due to the on-going crises and increased caseload. Unfortunately, we have to prioritise the treatment of patients according to the criticality level of their illness” further explained Dr. Qadasi. Some families waiting for hospital beds are able to rent hotel rooms or even houses, but Atef and his family have no other choice but to wait in the parking lot.