The World Bank has noted that one mother and six newborns are dying in Yemen every two hours as health services in the war-torn nation collapse under the weight of seven years of conflict.
Additionally, the conflict has also taken a direct toll on the health of the population. It is now estimated to be the third leading cause of death in Yemen, following ischemic heart disease and neonatal disorders.
Malnutrition rates among women and children in Yemen remain among the highest in the world, with 1.2 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.3 million children under 5 requiring treatment for acute malnutrition.
According to a study published by the international financial institution in September, reporting on the health status of Yemenis points to deteriorating health conditions amidst the ongoing conflict. These include high levels of child malnutrition, low immunization rates, and outbreaks of communicable diseases.
Maternal and child health are particularly affected by the worsening situation.
Yemen’s health sector suffers significantly from the consequences of prolonged and ongoing armed conflict, economic decline, and institutional collapse.
Availability of functioning health infrastructures, such as hospitals and primary care centers, has dwindled under the impact of conflict, with a significant share of the population having challenges with access to health care.
Currently, only 50% of health facilities are fully functional, and over 80% of the population faces significant challenges in reaching food, drinking water and access to health care services.
Shortages of human resources, equipment, and supplies are severely hindering healthcare provision. Furthermore, conflict has exacerbated health challenges and resulted in weak governance for the healthcare sector.
More so, displaced people living in crowded informal sites or dense peri-urban neighborhoods are particularly at risk of infectious disease outbreaks and other health challenges.
Currently, about 3.6 million people remain displaced across Yemen, including more than 700,000 people who live in more than 1,700 informal sites scattered across the country with little or no services.
People with underlying health conditions are also at grave risk, particularly as treatment for chronic conditions has deteriorated significantly over the course of the conflict. This puts a significant proportion of the population at grave risk for infectious disease outbreaks, including Covid-19.
Yemen’s health system is extremely reliant on external funding and the provision of health services is primarily done through implementing organizations, with a weak health system and an overreliance on development partners executing vertical health programs.