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Houthi Corruption Hikes Number of Pulmonary TB Cases in Yemen

Houthi Corruption Hikes Number of Pulmonary TB Cases in Yemen

Saturday, 3 April, 2021 - 10:00
A woman sitting on a bed at the emergency ward of a hospital in Taiz, Yemen. Photo by: REUTERS / Anees Mahyoub

Over the last few years, tens of thousands of Yemenis living in insurgency-held areas have been infected by pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) as health centers struggle with being deprived of key resources snatched away by Houthi militia leaders.

Patients with active TB were mostly concentrated in Houthi-run areas suffering from poor sanitation and health services.

Medics and health staffers in centers specialized in fighting the lung infection in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen have reported a surge in positive cases, recording a staggering 40,190 new patients in as little as three years.

Infections were recorded in the governorates of Sanaa, Ibb, Dhamar, Saadah, Hajjah, Amran and Al Mahwit.

In 2019, the lung disease peaked with 15,355 infections recorded within a single year. The number of cases detected in 2018 and 2020 stood at 11,885 and 12,950 respectively.

Medics warn that the figures are not exact, with high chances of many cases going undiagnosed.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, some health workers confirmed that the hike in cases can be blamed on the war waged by Iran-backed Houthi militias which featured the looting, pillaging and extortion of health centers.

Dozens of treatment centers, hospitals and clinics have been systematically targeted and weakened by successive blackmailing and illicit tariffs imposed by Houthis.

The Iran-backed militia has seized the funds of four key programs for disease and epidemic control, sources confirmed.

One of the affected programs was dedicated to treating pulmonary TB patients and raising awareness about the disease. It offered affordable medication and laboratory testing for needy patients across 305 districts.

It is worth noting that a 2017 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) has placed TB as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. In 2016, TB killed 1.7 million people around the world.

Concerning drug-resistant TB, the WHO estimated the prevalence of that type of infection at a rate of 2.3% in Yemeni patients who received no treatment whatsoever and at a rate of 18% among those previously treated for TB.

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