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Yemen: Saving lives without salaries

29 Sep 2017

Tens of thousands of Ministry of Public Health and Population staff have not received their salaries in one year. This has undeniably amplified the strain on the already struggling health system. Many health workers are no longer able or willing to work as they need to secure incomes elsewhere to ensure their families are able to survive. As a consequence, many health facilities are not fully functional, forced to shut down, or on the verge of closure.

The ongoing cholera epidemic, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), has so far resulted in over 700, 000 suspected cases and 2,090 deaths, is a stark example of the consequences of the non-payment of salaries to medics. Unpaid salaries are driving the collapse of public medical services, and a key underlying cause of the rapid spread of the disease. The crisis in public health care in Yemen calls for increased efforts and resources and underlines the need to improve the quality of aid delivery. The utilization of available funding, human resources and logistic capacity must be enhanced, with more patient-centered strategies and constant monitoring of implementing partners’ activities on the ground.

This document provides an overview of the consequences of a critical problem in Yemen: the non-payment of salaries within the Ministry of Public Health and Population. The vast majority of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health staff have not received their wages since August/ September 2016, bringing medical services closer to the edge of collapse. This briefing note includes background information, examples of the personal and systemic impacts of this issue, and highlights the unfulfilled promises by Yemeni authorities and the international community.