According to the UN, coronavirus can spread faster, wider and with fatal consequences in Yemen than in many other countries of the world. Here are five reasons why.
1. This country is still at war
Since 2015, Yemen has been devastated by the conflict, leaving millions of people without access to proper health care, clean water or sanitation, which is essential to prevent the spread of the virus.
Vital food, medical, and humanitarian supplies were limited to a partial land, sea, and air blockade imposed by a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia fighting the Huti rebels – while the rebels themselves prevented the distribution of aid.
The absence of a responsible central government (the rebels expelled the government from the capital to the south of the country) complicates the localization of the coronavirus.
2. He already suffers from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world
Conditions in Yemen put the population at particular risk of a highly contagious disease.
Almost three years before the advent of Covid-19, the United Nations declared Yemen the most needy place on Earth. About 24 million people — about 80% of the population — depend on help to survive, and millions are on the verge of starvation.
An estimated 2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, and the country has already struggled with diseases like dengue, malaria, and cholera before the first cases of coronavirus have been reported.
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A weakened immune system means that people with chronic illnesses can become infected with Covid-19 more easily and have a harder time surviving.
3. Yemen’s health system collapsed
Five years of war destroyed the country’s healthcare system, preventing it from coping with the pandemic.
Many of Yemen’s 3,500 medical facilities were damaged or destroyed by air strikes, and it is estimated that only half of them are fully operational.
According to reports, the clinics are overcrowded, and basic medicines and equipment are not enough – in a country with a population of 27.5 million. There are only a few hundred ventilators that help patients breathe when coronavirus leads to pulmonary failure.
Without knowing more precisely who has the coronavirus, it is more difficult to prevent its spread or to plan the number of patients creating an additional burden on an already fragile healthcare system.
Since the first patient with coronavirus was registered in April in government-controlled areas, it was not possible to establish the true extent of the outbreak.
The government has announced just over 900 caseswhile the rebels, who control the capital and other densely populated areas, say they found only four cases on their territory.
The UN says that due to a lack of test kits and a lack of transparency in insurgent and government data, the actual number of cases is almost certainly much higher in all directions.
5. Doctors themselves are vulnerable
Along with the lack of drugs to treat patients, Yemeni doctors do not have personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and dressing gowns, to protect them from this disease.
An unconfirmed report on Al-Masdar’s private news website said dozens of doctors died as a result of Kovid 19 in areas where rebels and governments reside.
One of the most prominent experts in the field of infectious diseases in Yemen, Yassin Abdul Vareth, died of Covid-19 earlier this month, what was termed a serious blow to Yemen’s health sector.