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WHO: Over 20m Yemenis are at risk of malaria

October 20, 2021 at 2:59 pm

A Yemeni child sits at the Jaw al-Naseem camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of the northern city of Marib, on February 18, 2021 [NABIL ALAWZARI/AFP via Getty Images]

More than 20 million Yemenis are at risk of contracting malaria, at a time when only half of the country’s health facilities are operating, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned yesterday.

The WHO Yemen explained in a report that 20.4 million Yemenis live in areas at risk of malaria transmission, while it is estimated that about one million new cases of malaria plague the country every year.

In response to this risk, WHO is supporting volunteer health workers by providing rapid diagnostic tests and medicines, building capacity through basic training on malaria case detection and treatment, and educating communities on the importance of prevention.

“While only half of the health facilities in Yemen are fully or even partially functioning, the operating facilities still lack qualified paid health staff, in addition to the scarcity of essential medicines and medical equipment,” it said.

“As Yemen continues to be surrounded by outbreaks of malaria and other vector-borne diseases, it is critical to strengthen and scale up malaria control mechanisms and integrated vector management efforts in communities across the country,” the report added.

Impoverished Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

The war, in which the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) back the Saudi-led coalition, has claimed the lives of more than 233,000 Yemeni and left 80 per cent of the population – about 30 million people – dependent on aid to survive, according to UN data.

READ: 2.4m children in Yemen at risk of starvation