The Health Sector in Yemen’s Taiz On Verge of Collapse

Published June 8th, 2020 - 07:53 GMT
A Yemeni girl riding a donkey waits to fill jerrycans with water from a cistern at a make-shift camp for the internally displaced, in the northern Hajjah province, on June 7, 2020, amid a severe shortage of water. ESSA AHMED / AFP
A Yemeni girl riding a donkey waits to fill jerrycans with water from a cistern at a make-shift camp for the internally displaced, in the northern Hajjah province, on June 7, 2020, amid a severe shortage of water. ESSA AHMED / AFP

The health sector in Yemen’s southwestern Taiz region is on the verge of collapse due to the siege imposed by the Iran-backed Houthi militias and the shortage of medical staff and medicine, revealed local sources.

They told Asharq Al-Awsat that the situation had gotten so dire that some doctors have chosen to leave the province and hospitals are refusing to receive patients amid the outbreak of diseases, including the novel coronavirus.

The Taiz health department is suffering from a shortage of medicine and medical supplies at operating public hospitals, especially with the advent of the season when diseases, such as malaria, Yellow Fever and Chikungunya, become widespread. Compounding the concerns is the outbreak of the coronavirus and several private and public hospitals refusing to admit suspected cases.

Director of the general health and population office in Taiz, Dr. Rajeh al-Meliki told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis were to blame for the “catastrophe” in the health sector.

Agencies and some donors have managed to come to the aid of the sector, which is, however, operating in a limited capacity, he added.

 

“The Houthi siege and random shelling has led to a catastrophe in every sense of the word,” he stressed, blaming them for the displacement of important medical staff.

Moreover, he said that medical equipment, which had been damaged in recent years, has not been repaired due to a lack of spare parts and poor capacities. This has therefore, left main hospitals without modern medical equipment.

For example, Meliki said the main government hospital in Taiz does not have CT or MRI scanners, which are available at some private hospitals, “but they are very outdated and tests are very expensive.”

With the coronavirus outbreak, Taiz finds itself in a shortage of ventilators. Only eleven are available, most of which are in disrepair, said Meliki.

As of Thursday, Taiz confirmed 85 virus cases, 18 deaths and five recoveries. Sixty-two active cases are being treated in quarantine centers and voluntary home isolation under the supervision of a response team.

Health sector workers noted that Taiz province boasts some 5 million people, or 15 to 20 percent of Yemen’s population, meaning it needs dozens and even hundreds of ventilators.

Meliki revealed that the situation is so dire that some hospitals have turned away suspected virus cases in order to set up temporary isolation wards.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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