Twenty ambulances, 100 cholera kits, hospital equipment and 128 000 bags of intravenous fluids – these are just some of the supplies which arrived in Hodeida, Yemen, Friday, as part of a 403-ton shipment sent by the World Health Organization (WHO). An additional 10 ambulances were delivered through the Port of Aden 3 weeks ago with 10 more due to arrive in coming weeks.
“We needed a special kind of ship to carry the ambulances and luckily we found one in the region,” explained Dr Nevio Zagaria, WHO Representative in Yemen. “It was absolutely enormous. But so are the needs in Yemen right now. So we loaded as many supplies as possible onto it, including some therapeutic feeding items that our sister agency UNICEF will use for children suffering from malnutrition.”
Getting medical supplies to vulnerable people across Yemen is no easy task, with active conflict, damaged port infrastructure and logistical difficulties impeding access. The flow of medicines into the country has dried up by more than 70%.
“People are dying in Yemen right now because they cannot access health care,” continued Dr Zagaria. “The most visible example of the health system's inability to respond to the needs of the population is the ongoing cholera outbreak, which has resulted in the deaths of 1500 Yemenis in just over 2 months. But people are also dying of things like childhood pneumonia, malaria, complications around childbirth, high blood pressure and diabetes because they cannot access treatment. The medicines and equipment delivered today will save lives.”
The delivery of these life-saving health supplies is thanks to support from the Emirates Red Crescent, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund and the World Bank.