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Yemen

OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE IN YEMEN

MSF has ongoing projects in 13 governates in Yemen. We have implemented measures to keep staff and patients safe and to ensure the continuation of lifesaving hospital care in all projects, as well as helped other hospitals prepare to receive COVID-19 cases.      

In Aden, MSF is running the COVID-19 treatment centres at Al Amal and Al Gumhoria hospitals, in support of the local health authorities. As Aden has recently experienced a sharp increase in suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, an additional MSF emergency team has arrived to provide additional medical and logistical support to the hospital.   

In Sana’a governate in central Yemen, MSF is supporting two hospitals by treating severely ill COVID-19 patients. The 15-bed ICU in al-Kuwait Hospital has been mostly full for the past four weeks, with a high mortality rate; patients are arriving at the centre very late, making it very difficult for health care workers to save their lives. At Sheikh Zayyed Hospital we are providing training for the screening set-up, triage and infection prevention and control, as well as donating hygiene and cleaning supplies, medicines and oxygen. We are focused on maintaining essential, lifesaving care in the emergency room, intensive care unit, operating theatre and male and female inpatient departments, alongside mental health care and referrals for higher level care in Sana’a.       

MSF teams have treated hundreds of patients with respiratory symptoms in both Sana’a and Aden.    

In Amran governate, we have established COVID-19 treatment centres for moderate cases in Khamer and Haydan, and have begun admitting small numbers of patients suspected of COVID-19 due to their similar symptoms.        

In Hajjah Governorate in the northeast, we have contributed to preparation in Abs and Al Gumhouri hospitals. In Abs Hospital we created an 11-bed isolation unit. The MSF-supported COVID-19 isolation centre is now officially part of Al Gumhouri hospital, where we have supported the authorities by setting up a 30-bed triage area. Screening points have been established at patient entry in both locations. 

Also in the town of Abs, we are exploring perceptions and knowledge of COVID-19 in the community including in Al Khudish displacement camp, and measures to protect them from infection.     

In Marib we have focused on training community health workers in COVID-19 health promotion. We are also training staff in three health facilities and setting up screening points and patient flow circuits.    

In Ibb governorate in the southwest we have supported local authorities to build the Al Sahul COVID-19 treatment centre, which began receiving patients on 13 June. MSF conducted a five-day training course for 234 medical and non-medical staff in the facility. We are assisting with technical support, triage and screening set- up, facility management, and infection prevention and control (IPC). 

In Hodeidah governate in the west we have been conducting training and implementing IPC measures in Al Salakhana Hospital, where we have also established an isolation unit.       

In Taiz governate in the southeast, training and IPC implementation have also been our focus in the mother and child hospital in Taiz Houban. We support a total of three hospitals in Taiz city and have been providing training and systems support as part of their preparedness for COVID-19.  

 

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Our teams are also gearing up to confront potential outbreaks in the hundreds of areas we were already working before the pandemic struck. We are deploying medical staff, sending supplies and applying nearly 50 years of experience fighting epidemics to protect the most vulnerable and save lives.
 
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The ongoing conflict in Yemen has created one of the world's most devastating humanitarian disasters.

Since March 2015, a Saudi and Emirati-led coalition has been fighting anti-government Ansar Allah forces, resulting in widespread destruction, bombing and gun battles.

According to the Yemen Data Project, more than 16,000 air raids have been recorded in the last three years - roughly 15 a day.

The healthcare system has been decimated: medical staff have fled the country, facilities have been destroyed and medical supplies cut.

More than three million people have been displaced since the war in Yemen began.

Collapsed Health System

Ordinary people are bearing the brunt of this brutal conflict. Indiscriminate bombings have destroyed much of the country’s public infrastructure, including hospitals. Many of the country’s 50,000 health workers have not been paid since 2016 and have consequently left the public health system, forced to look for other sources of income.

Citizens experience airstrikes and sniper attacks, and endure severe water shortages. A fuel blockade has further contributed to this humanitarian crisis. The Saudi-led coalition’s continued blockage of the main aid routes into the country is another, particularly punitive, measure against a defenseless civilian population.  

Since the war began, the national average prices of fuel commodities have more than doubled. This has had an impact on people’s ability to access healthcare, especially those living in remote places.

Even where medical facilities are operational, most Yemenis cannot always afford the cost of transportation to reach them. This means they are unable to seek timely care, and easily curable health conditions are turning deadly when left untreated. Women often give birth at home and seek care only when complications occur.

As a result of conflict, it is difficult for people to access clean water and dispose of waste. This has led to several outbreaks of cholera

In response to the 2017 cholera outbreak, we opened 37 cholera treatment centres and oral rehydration points and admitted  over 100,000 patients.

With an estimated 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, our activities in Yemen are among our most extensive worldwide. We work in hospitals and health centres, and support public health facilities across the country providing emergency, maternity, inpatient and outpatient services, and assist in laboratories and blood banks.

Malnutrition in Yemen

The nutritional situation in Yemen is dire. Due to insecurity and access constraints we are unable to survey the status of the population at large. Malnutrition among children remains high. admissions to MSF's intensive therapeutic feeding centre in Khamer hospital doubled in September 2018 when compared to the previous year.

We are running lifesaving medical activities on both sides of the frontlines in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, where most hospitals have closed due to the conflict. Most of the wounded are coming from the city centre, where many civilians are caught in the middle of intense fighting, struggling for food and survival. Survivors of landmines and unexploded ordnance blasts are common.

 

MSF teams provide mental health and physiotherapy consultations, and run surgeries, patient referrals, and nutrition programs free of charge. We support six dialysis treatment centres, run a Mother and Child hospital in Taiz, and provide additional support to local health centres through healthcare provision, donations of medicine, oxygen, logistical equipment, electricity, human resources, and a referral system.
 
Movement in and out of cities remains restricted and dangerous for civilians and humanitarian workers. 
 
During 2017 alone, MSF teams performed nearly 20,000 surgical interventions in Yemen.