As of November 9, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has carried out 1,095,072 health consultations for displaced and conflict affected Yemenis and migrants this year alone.
With more than four years of conflict pushing the public sector to a breaking point, people in Yemen are struggling to access health care. As part of its emergency lifesaving services and support to the health sector, the United Nations agency is ensuring that the health sector continues to function.
Only half of Yemen’s health facilities are currently operating, causing people to travel long distances in search of essential services and forcing many to go without. Prior to the conflict in 2015, public facilities were already strained.
Today, the lack of financial resources, doctors, medicine and medical equipment has caused further deterioration, while the increased number of people seeking medical assistance in certain areas has overwhelmed health facilities.
“Our lives are difficult in terms of income, education, health services, water and transportation”, said Maryam, a Yemeni woman living in Birali, Lahj governorate, where IOM helped get the local health centre back up and running. “When there was no health centre, we had to travel to Hadramout or Aden (approximately 120 and 450 kilometres away, respectively); a woman in labour couldn’t do that,” she added.
IOM’s health programming strengthens key public institutions and helps ensure they survive the crisis. To support the re-establishment of Yemen’s primary health care systems, IOM ensures that public health facilities can provide a minimum service package to their target population through provision of human resource, medicines and medical supplies.
IOM is supporting the restoration and operational needs of 86 facilities across Yemen, ensuring effective, safe and quality free health care through over 120,000 consultations per month.
The organisation also operates nine mobile health teams, which reach migrants and displaced people who do not have access to traditional health facilities. Four of these mobile teams provide newly arrived migrants with emergency health services along Yemen’s coast.
Complications with import, and internal transportation of items such as medical stock puts further pressure on Yemen’s health system by causing critical medications to be unavailable in much of the country.
IOM has stockpiles of critical medicines, such as antibiotics or medication for management of Type 2 diabetes, in warehouses across Yemen to ensure IOM-run and supported facilities have a constant supply.
IOM’s Health Programme Coordinator in Yemen, Dr Nedal Odeh, said “with health needs rising and many people living in locations with virtually no health services, IOM’s provision of health care to conflict-affected communities, internally displaced people and migrants is vital to the continuation of accessible health services and the strengthening of the overall health system in Yemen.”
Within the over one million health consultations, over 19,000 people were provided with psychosocial counselling, 113,000 others received reproductive health consultations, and more than 71,000 people were reached through health awareness-raising activities.
IOM’s health programming in Yemen is made possible through contributions from the Governments of Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Slovakia, the United States and the United Kingdom. IOM also works in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Yemen Humanitarian Fund and is a principal recipient for the Global Fund in Yemen.