Government medical staff in Yemen received their last regular salary a year ago, international NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has said, warning that a continuation of this will lead to a further deterioration of life-saving medical services.
For the past year, most of the estimated 1.2 million Yemeni civil servants have received little to no salary, including tens of thousands of public sector health workers across the country, the organisation said in a statement on its website.
“People don’t understand that we don’t always have drugs; we need to use our own money to buy the medication,” says a nurse at Al-Khamees health centre in Hodeida Governorate. “People shout at us ‘Why are you here?!’”
“Unpaid salaries are driving the collapse of the already-weak public health system,” MSF said.
“The commitment we see every day from government staff is humbling,” Melissa McRae, MSF’s Medical Coordinator in Yemen, said.
Working for a year without pay, many are doing whatever possible to keep health services running, however minimally, while wondering how to keep their families fed, clothed and safe. Others have had to seek alternative employment or charge patients for medical care that should be available for free.
The lack of funds has further exacerbated the cholera epidemic which has gripped the country, the organisation added.
Impoverished Yemen has remained in a state of civil war since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sana’a.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s embattled government.
According to UN officials, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, while more than 11 per cent of the country’s population has been displaced.