KEY MEDICAL FIGURES
The COVID-19 pandemic hit Yemen hard in 2020, one of many crises unfolding in a country still at war after more than half a decade.
With Yemen’s health system already in ruins, a surge in deaths due to COVID-19 struck the country in May. Some hospitals closed their doors, with staff fearing COVID-19 and lacking personal protective equipment. The conflict caused injuries and death and prevented thousands of people from gaining access to medical care, while local authorities restricted the work of assistance organizations. Healthcare facilities and workers continued to be attacked, including an MSF-supported hospital in Taiz City, which was attacked multiple times.
Despite these challenges, MSF ran 12 hospitals and health centres and supported 13 others in 13 governorates across the country.
Our teams supported COVID-19 treatment centres at hospitals in Aden and Al-Kuwait, Yemen’s two largest cities, and opened smaller treatment centres in Ibb, Haydan and Khamir. Staff put prevention measures in place at our regular projects so they could continue to offer essential healthcare. By September, with cases in decline, we handed our major COVID-19 activities to the local health authorities, while preparing for a possible second wave.
In response to the conflict in Yemen, MSF teams worked across the country to offer surgical care for wounded people and built a new operating room in Haydan. Staff also provided care for mothers and their newborn children, assisting in more than a thousand births every month in Abs. In Abs, Haydan and Khamar, we treated an increased number of children for malnutrition.
Restrictions on our movements from both sides of the conflict hampered our capacity to conduct needs assessments and operate mobile clinics, and we sometimes struggled to obtain visas for specialist staff.