97 Yemeni healthcare workers have been killed by COVID-19 as the disease rips through the war-torn country, according to a report by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Local doctors and medical students tracked the deaths of their colleagues from coronavirus symptoms in order to document the impact of the deadly virus on Yemen.
Not much medical data is available on the full scale of the COVID-19 infections and deaths in Yemen, with government and rebel-held areas providing infamously unreliable figures.
Yemen’s official numbers are said to be 1,610 cases, with 446 deaths, however the number is believed to be much higher, according to medical data published by medical charity MedGlobal released on Thursday.
The current mortality rate, according to the data, is around 27% -a staggering five times the global average.
Around half of all medical facilities are out of action in Yemen, with underfunding grossly exacerbating existing crises of malnutrition and cholera outbreaks, thus the loss of a medical expert has a huge impact on Yemen’s medical infrastructure.
Dr Nahla Arishi, paediatrician working on the frontline of Yemen’s coronavirus response in Aden, and coronavirus survivor told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that medical staff morale is low.
She said: “We have lost our best colleagues, people who can’t be replaced easily. Coronavirus is also killing the morale of medical staff.”
The loss of gynaecologists and midwives are also expected to have a devastating impact, with one in every 260 women die during pregnancy or childbirth.
MedGlobal has called for UN agencies and NGOs to provide Yemen’s overstretched health workers with protective equipment in order to do their jobs safely, and provide training to medical staff on coping with the coronavirus crisis on very limited resources.