Concern rising as humanitarian situation deteriorates in Yemen
Deteriorating humanitarian situation
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Basic services, including health services, are barely functioning. Access remains limited due to uncertain security, particularly in the areas of Abyan, Amran and Sana’a Governorates.
Displacement has increased, with 300 000 long-term internally displaced people in the north and more than 60 000 recently displaced in the south. Yemen also hosts about 200 000 refugees. Flows have increased by 10% since the beginning of the year and a registered average of 7000 refugees arrive each month. The severity of the drought in the Horn of Africa is accelerating the flow of migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia.
Overall 500 000 to 700 000 people require humanitarian assistance.
The drought is also having an impact on Yemen, where a third of the population is already food insecure. Key commodities are difficult to obtain and the prices of staple food have increased by an average of 26 to 50% since the beginning of the year.
Fuel shortages are impeding the delivery of humanitarian services. Vaccines in hospitals have been affected, with 30% of immunization facilities closed due to disruption of the cold chain supply system.
Diarrhoeal outbreak in Abyan Governorate
The diarrhoeal outbreak in Abyan Aden and Lahj Governorates continues. Surveillance has greatly improved and the number of sites reporting daily has increased from 46 to 55 (15 in Abyan, 16 in Lahj and 24 in Aden). As of 31 July, 7361 cases (4653 in Abyan, 2236 in Aden and 472 in Lahj) and 27 deaths had been reported (CFR 0.366%). Data suggests that Al-Gia’ar, Al-Hoson and Batees areas (all in Abyan’s Khanfar District) continue to be the main affected areas.
In Abyan Governorate, patients in accessible areas are treated in Razi and Shukra hospitals and by private health care providers. The absence of functioning government and health offices in most of the Governorate hinders response activities, such as chlorination of contaminated water sources, health education and environmental sanitation, and appropriate case management in health facilities.
Humanitarian coordination structures have been established in southern Yemen. WHO and the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) are co-leading the Health Cluster. WHO is maintaining close contact with all parties and supporting the MoPHP and volunteer groups in delivering life-saving health services.
Strengthening outbreak control in Abyan Governorate
To strengthen outbreak control in Abyan Governorate, WHO, the MoPHP and health partners have stepped up the chlorination of communal water sources and the distribution of chlorine tablets and oral rehydration salts. Simultaneously, they are training national staff and volunteers in affected areas on the proper use of chlorine products and building up community awareness on the prevention of acute watery diarrhoea. WHO provided medicines and supplies for the management of 800 patients in Aden and Lahj Governorates and 1000 patients in Abyan Governorate.
WHO funded a 24-bed rehydration centre in Jumhuria hospital (Aden Governorate) and provided equipment, medicines and supplies to ensure appropriate diarrhoea treatment for internally displaced and host populations. A similar centre has been requested by the MoH for Wahda hospital in Lahj Governorate.
Finally surveillance focal points in all affected districts were designated in all affected areas to ensure timely reporting and monitoring of all cases.
Mobile health care and immunization coverage
As of 31 July, the seven mobile clinics supported by WHO in Aden, Lahj and Abyan (Shukra) had provided 10 471 consultations. Diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and skin infections were the main causes of morbidity. WHO, the MoPHP, the Advanced Medical Post in Sana’a and a local NGO will support the creation and new advanced medical post near Arhab District in Sana’a Governorate. WHO will provide funds to cover operational costs and purchase basic surgical equipment and emergency medical supplies kits. WHO will also rehabilitate the emergency room of a referral hospital in the area.
WHO provided technical and financial support for a vaccination campaign in Sa’ada Governorate. The first phase, conducted in eight districts on 18–23 July, immunized 36 859 children under five against polio and more than 72 254 children against measles. Pentavalent (influenza, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and hepatitis B) and pneumococcal vaccinations were conducted for children under one and vitamin A was also distributed. The second phase was conducted on 26–31 July and results will be shared when available.
On 30 July, WHO started a week-long de-worming campaign for internally displaced children living in schools in Aden. The campaign will be expanded to Lahj Governorate and parts of Abyan.
Funding and needs
The most immediate needs and gaps include:
- strengthening surveillance for diarrhoea in Abyan Governorate;
- delivering health services inside Abyan Governorate using MoPHP and private sector health facilities;
- improving coordination in Aden;
- increasing resource mobilization to fill the gaps and emerging needs.
As of 4 August, 36% ( or US$ 7.78 million) of the funding requested by the Health Cluster for 2011 has been received. With the continuing crisis, WHO's support must be maintained to ensure that emergency medicines and supplies are appropriately managed, distributed and monitored and that technical support continues for training health workers on mass casualty management.
Additional funding is needed to provide equipment to advance health posts and field hospitals and to ensure a better gender distribution within the health work force.