Diphtheria vaccination campaign targets 2.7 million children
National and international partners have completed a large-scale vaccination campaign with the aim to control the spread of diphtheria in Yemen. Targeting nearly 2.7 million children aged six weeks to 15 years in 11 governorates, the campaign focused on locations reporting suspected cases of diphtheria and areas at high risk of spread of the infectious respiratory disease. On the west coast where violence has recently escalated, 835,775 children were targeted in Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Al Mahwit and Raymah governorates.
The campaign, supported by WHO and UNICEF, is part of a larger response plan that includes strengthening surveillance and case detection, enhancing laboratory testing capacity, procuring and distributing diphtheria anti-toxins to health facilities, and training and deploying rapid response teams to trace contacts and provide preventive treatment in communities. Health education and awareness campaigns were conducted to teach people how to protect themselves against diphtheria and other infectious diseases.
First reported in October 2017, diphtheria has spread rapidly, infecting more than 1,300 people and killing over 70. Almost 80 per cent of the caseload are children and young adults below 25 years of age. The rapid spread of the disease highlights major gaps in routine vaccination coverage in recent years and signifies a collapsing health system where only half of all health facilities are partially or fully functioning.
In November and December 2017, WHO and UNICEF vaccinated almost 450,000 children under 7 years of age against diphtheria in Ibb – the worst affected governorate accounting for nearly 35 per cent of all reported cases.
The current campaign targeted 488,504 people in seven priority districts in Ibb.
UPDATES FROM THE HUMANITARIAN HUBS
Al Hudaydah: Clashes in the southern areas of Al Hudaydah governorate resulted in more IDPs fleeing southwards. Airstrikes and ground clashes were reported along frontlines in Hays, Al Tuhayat and Al Garrahi districts of Al Hudaydah, as well as Haradh and Midi districts of Hajjah governorate. An assessment has identified 2,700 newly displaced families from Al Khawkhah as well as neighboring Hays and Al Garrahi districts. As of 8 March, some 13,262 displaced households had reportedly fled the fighting in Al Hudaydah governorate.
WFP is planning to support the newly displaced families by dispatching supplies from Aden since Al Khawkhah district is inaccessible from Al Hudaydah due to the active hostilities. WFP is supporting 586 vulnerable families living in Al Garrahi with food assistance. UNHCR and UNICEF are supporting 410 newly displaced families in the district with non-food items as well as water and sanitation materials. In Zabid district, ICRC has supported 332 displaced families with non-food items and hygiene kits.
Aden: An assessment by a humanitarian partner in Tuban district, Lahj governorate, found that 65 per cent of the estimated 729 displaced households in the governorate were from Al Hudaydah and 26 per cent from Taizz. More than half of the IDPs are women. Only 46 per cent of the assessed population have access to drinking water and to personal hygiene facilities.
Another assessment conducted in four districts of Shabwah governorate (As Said, Habban, Ataq and Nisab) found that half of the displaced children are not attending school, exposing them to the risk of early marriage, child labour, recruitment and other types of exploitation.
Ibb: Civilian displacement and casualties continue to be reported in Taizz governorate as armed clashes continue, particularly in Maqbana and Salah districts.
Taizz governorate accounted for the second highest number of civilian casualties in December 2017 and January 2018. Since the escalation of the conflict in Al Hudaydah and Taizz governorates in January, at least 3,590 families have reportedly been displaced within Taizz and 371 families within Ibb governorate.
The Danish Refugee Council plans to provide WASH assistance to IDPs and host communities in Al Mukha district of Taizz. The International Youth Council Yemen will support 150 out of 1,471 new displaced families in Maqbanah district. WFP will support the remaining caseload. In Ibb, Save the Children started the implementation of a cash support programme for 260 IDP families in Dhi As Sufal district. To enhance the movement of civilians and delivery of humanitarian supplies, plans are underway to use a shorter route between Ibb and Taizz.
Sa’ada: Following advocacy efforts by humanitarian partners, local authorities have agreed to lift the suspension on currently frozen cash interventions in support of livelihoods.
In Al Jamhouri hospital in Sa’adah city, an oxygen station is being installed to ensure availability of oxygen to meet the needs of the hospital and other health facilities in the governorate. The installation, which is expected to be completed in April, will double oxygen production to about 48 cylinders a day. In Kitaf wa Al Boqe’e district, UNHCR, through an implementing partner, concluded the distribution of non-food items to 1,000 IDP households. In three isolated areas of the same district, a national humanitarian organisation distributed 850 food baskets to the most vulnerable households, orphans and IDPs.
Sana´a: The recent escalation of fighting in Nati’ district in Al Bayda governorate has reportedly newly displaced 400 households to other parts of the governorate, while some 200 households have been displaced from Nati’ to Shabwah in Bayhan and Usaylan districts.
Long queues continue in Sana’a city due to limited quantities of cooking gas. The price remains at 3,000 YER/20-liter cylinder. Reports indicate that some households had to wait for up to eight days to get one gas cylinder filled.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.