USAID supports lifesaving reproductive, maternal, and child health services and a stronger health system to reach the most vulnerable populations in Yemen.
Yemen is suffering the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, exacerbated by ongoing conflict. USAID development assistance in Yemen bridges the relief-to-development continuum. It strengthens Yemen’s resiliency through programs that stabilize the economy, rebuild basic education and health systems, increase social cohesion, and improve water sector access and management.
In Yemen, 19.7 million people lack access to basic health services. Only 51 percent of health facilities in Yemen are fully functioning and of those, most lack specialty physicians, equipment, and basic medicines. These gaps impact services for the most vulnerable, especially women and children. Yemen’s maternal mortality ratio is one of the highest in the region at 164 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The mortality rate of children under five is 59.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, the infant mortality rate is 45.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the neonatal mortality rate is 28.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. In addition, the weakened health care system has resulted in the re-emergence of preventable diseases. This ranges from a cholera outbreak to new cases of diphtheria, measles, and polio.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues with a lack of testing, treatment, and reporting capacity and low vaccine acceptance among the population.
USAID’s Response and Results
The USAID Yemen Systems, Health, and Resilience Project (USAID SHARP) improves maternal and child health outcomes in Yemen via a multifaceted approach. This includes: building the capacity of health facility staff and community midwives to deliver higher quality care; encouraging community engagement with the formal health system to build trust; improving district health authorities’ management skills; exploring and piloting innovative financing mechanisms to improve access to care; and strengthening Yemen’s health management information system to provide data for decision-makers.
USAID SHARP is active in Aden, Lahj, and Ta’izz governorates. The project has trained 862 community midwives and 426 reproductive health volunteers to improve access to services for women of reproductive age and children under five. The project also trained 678 health facility service providers on evidence-based reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition services to ensure provision of quality services for mothers, pregnant and lactating women, and children.
To strengthen Yemen’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID coordinated the U.S. government donation of 319,200 COVID-19 vaccines to Yemen. In 2022, USAID also provided life-saving oxygen to COVID-19 isolation units, supported cold storage and transportation of vaccines, helped authorities to develop health guidelines and protocols, trained health care workers on infection prevention and control measures, and shared awareness messages through social media, radio, and community outreach to increase vaccination rates and help prevent the spread of the disease. Moving forward, USAID will continue to train and support health care workers carrying out COVID-19 activities. USAID will also support integration of COVID-19 vaccination into routine vaccine activities to make COVID-19 vaccinations part of standard immunization programs.
In addition, USAID promotes better nutrition for families by increasing access to high quality nutrition services and by strengthening the government’s ability to deliver those services. Recently, USAID supported a comprehensive assessment of midwife care in southern Yemen to identify support opportunities to ensure they have the knowledge and tools they need to provide quality care.