Statement by Dr Rick Brennan, Director WHO Emergency Operations, at launch of United Nations and humanitarian partners international appeal to provide life-saving assistance to Yemen


8 February 2017
Essentially the health system in Yemen is on its knees right now and highly dependent on international support.

  • Currently more than 14.8 million people lack access to basic health care. Less than 45% of health facilities are still functioning. 17% are completely non-functional.At least 274 of those facilities have been damaged or destroyed during the current conflict.

Health care workers have not received their salaries regularly for about 6 months.  Medical supplies are in chronic shortage despite extensive support from WHO and Health Cluster members, further complicating the delivery of life-saving health care.

Beyond the direct casualties of the armed conflict, many Yemeni people die in silence and are largely unaccounted for, unnoticed and unrecorded. Girls, boys, women and men are dying of malnutrition and diseases that are easily preventable and treatable. People with chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney conditions etc. are slowly dying as they lack access to life-sustaining treatments.

Humanitarian partners are increasingly being asked to fill gaps created by the collapsing health institutions, including helping with payment of salaries of health professionals and the procurement of medicines and medical supplies. It is therefore essential for all stakeholders to help stem this collapse, including through selective reengagement and prioritization of interventions and districts to be supported.

During 2016, WHO and our Health Cluster partners targeted 10.6 million people with life-saving health services in Yemen and were able to sustain the functionality of more than 414 health care facilities. Together, we operated 406 health and nutrition mobile teams in 266 districts, conducted 541 child health and nutrition interventions in 323 districts, and vaccinated 4.5 million children against polio.

We thank all Member States that supported the Health Cluster and WHO’s emergency operations in Yemen in 2016 and we encourage you to continue and scale-up your support for this year in order to respond to the increasing needs. The Health Cluster in Yemen is appealing for US$ 322 million, of which WHO is requesting US$ 126 million.