Scaled up response needed to save lives
In some of the health centres we support, we have adapted our activities to cater to the increased needs. For instance, since we started our response to measles in Al Bayda governorate, we saw a total of 1,784 cases between mid-February and June 2023.
Nearly 52 per cent of cases were complicated, while only 12 per cent of these patients had been vaccinated prior to admission, offering a bleak illustration of the low level of immunisation.
This lack of immunisation appears to be driven by logistical barriers, including the restrictions on humanitarian imports, the number of health facilities able to provide vaccinations, as well as an absence of health education to highlight the essential role vaccines play in protecting people from diseases like measles.
Our teams have also extended the measles isolation unit in Abs Hospital to cater to the increased number of patients. In Al Qanawis Mother and Child Hospital, in Al Hudayda governorate, more than half of the patients admitted to the paediatric ward were children suffering from measles, just days after it opened in May 2023.
Similarly, a substantial increase of cases in Mocha, Taiz governorate, saw the need for a new isolation ward to be opened specifically for measles in April 2023. In Khamer and Haydan, 35 per cent and 41 per cent (respectively) of patients admitted to the paediatric unit were suffering from measles. The common thread in these different locations is a high prevalence of cases, along with an alarmingly low level of immunisation.
Addressing this grave health crisis demands a comprehensive and coordinated response. To protect Yemeni children from the risk of measles, it is imperative to bolster preventive measures, community involvement, and enhance case management.
The authorities, along with humanitarian and health actors in Yemen, must ensure the availability of vaccines in health structures, increase the accessibility and capacity of general healthcare facilities, strengthen referral pathways and reinforce community health awareness.