Geneva (ICRC) – In an effort to boost a health system devastated by war, the Red Cross and Red Crescent opened a free treatment centre for COVID-19 patients in Yemen, which has suffered from a high rate of death from a crippling first wave of COVID-19.
The 60-bed treatment centre in the southern city of Aden includes a X-ray room, high dependency unit, care wards, a triage area and a laboratory. Several tons of medical supplies and equipment were brought in under the supervision of an international medical team.
Over half of Yemen’s health care facilities are shuttered due to years of conflict, putting medical care out of reach for too many people. Figures from the World Health Organization show that Yemen has had 585 deaths from 2026 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the world’s highest rate of death per positive caseload.
The new COVID-19 centre located on the premises of Al Joumhouriya hospital in Aden is a joint effort from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Norwegian Red Cross (NRC) and Finnish Red Cross (FRC), with the support of the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS).
“This centre will be a facility that will be able to treat patients that currently have few options, if any, to obtain adequate medical treatment,” said Diego Rojas Coronel, International Committee of the Red Cross Rapid Deployment Team Manager, speaking in Aden.
“In March and April there was a very high load of people with COVID-19 and the healthcare system was not prepared to take it. A lot of people were rejected at the door,” said Tine Mejdell Larsen, a nurse with the Norwegian Red Cross.
Health authorities in Yemen are reporting new cases in the southern governorates; continued spread of the virus is highly likely. Resources are low: residents are making basic face masks for their loved ones and face shields for medical personnel in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.
“When it first hit, many people died. Now they are saying it’s coming back stronger and the hospitals are closed. What if coronavirus comes back, who do we turn to after Allah? How many people will die?”, asked Ali Ahmed Ali, a resident of Aden.
“The healthcare situation in Yemen is dire. If you get coronavirus and go to the hospital for treatment you won’t get care. We dream of stability and peace in the country, for the war to stop, and services to improve, “said Sina Mohammed, who sews masks to sell to people.
The ongoing hostilities and a lack of medical supplies have forced the shutdown of many health care facilities in Yemen. The health system has been struggling to provide basic care for hundreds of thousands of people whose lives threatened by potentially curable diseases, malnutrition and war-related wounds. A lack of electricity, fuel and a high level of inflation that makes food, medicine and other basic goods almost unaffordable for most of the communities, have all combined to make life extremely difficult.
“Infectious diseases such as dengue fever and malaria are spreading. These diseases affect people greatly, due to lack of proper nutrition and as most of the population are under the poverty line,” said Fatima Elkendi, a volunteer doctor with a Yemeni medical charity.
The ICRC, YRCS and other Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have been responding to the pandemic across Yemen, by providing personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, food, and hygiene materials on regular basis to hospitals and isolation centres.
Notes on the COVID-19 centre:
The ICRC set up a referral system for patients from rural areas to the COVID-19 centre in Aden in coordination with other healthcare providers, health authorities and the YRCS.
The centre, which opened on September 20,will provide its services free of charge. Patients will be able to communicate with their family members while they are receiving treatment.
More than 100 locally hired Yemenis and 20 international medical and technical staff will work at the Centre.
For further information, please contact:
Yara Khawaja, ICRC Yemen, Tel.: +201015782237, Whatsapp: +961 70 661 374, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fareed Alhomaid, ICRC Yemen, Tel.: +967739164666, email@example.com
Sara Alzawqari, ICRC Beirut, Tel.: +961 3 138 353, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Hetherington, ICRC Geneva, Tel.: +41 79 447 37 26, email@example.com
or visit our website: www.icrc.org
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