USAID Yemen Health Fact Sheet

Credit: USAID/Yemen

USAID supports life-saving maternal, child health and family planning services, and a stronger health system that reaches the most vulnerable populations.

The U.S. Government has partnered with the people of Yemen since 1959 to address the humanitarian and development needs of the country. As a result of the ongoing civil war, Yemen is suffering the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. USAID is working with international and local partners to rebuild key social and economic institutions, help address the underlying causes of instability, and build the foundation for durable peace and prosperity to foster Yemen’s future resilience.

In Yemen, 19.7 million people lack access to basic health services. A driving force in the complexity and urgency of Yemen’s humanitarian and health crisis is the burden of the current food security crisis. Approximately 15.9 million people in Yemen are severely food insecure – currently the most significant amount globally. As of 2019 there were over 360,000 children under five years old suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) creating irreversible stunting, as well as wasting and increased mortality due to starvation. An estimated 7.4 million people are in need of nutrition assistance, with 4.4 million people who require treatment for acute malnutrition.

Only 50 percent of the health facilities in Yemen are functioning, and these facilities face severe shortages in medicines, equipment, and staff. These gaps especially impact critical services for the most vulnerable women and children. Unmet need for family planning (FP) remains high at 31.7 percent, while only 51.5 percent of women indicate demand for FP is satisfied. Facility stock outs continue with increased duration and frequency. Yemen’s collapsing healthcare system is projected to result in 1,000 maternal deaths per 68,000 pregnant women at risk. Gender based violence has also increased by over 17 percent since the onset of conflict. In addition, the degrading health care system has resulted in vulnerability to and emergence of diseases that can generally be cured or eradicated elsewhere in the world. This ranges from the largest cholera outbreak globally impacting all but one governorate, to the emergence of diphtheria and risk of re-introduction of polio.

USAID’S RESPONSE AND EXPECTED RESULTS

The USAID Strengthening Family Planning Services program in Yemen increases access to family planning and reproductive health services, particularly for women. The program will increase regular availability of family planning commodities at targeted health facilities. It also strengthens the capacity of health workers to provide quality services and creates awareness around reproductive health and family planning. This effort alongside USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain program, which leverages established USAID managed supply chains as well as programming at sites providing USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) maternal and child health services, to integrate, expand access and strengthen primary and secondary healthcare services for women.

As food insecurity and resulting malnutrition impacts more Yemenis, a reinforcing cycle of vulnerability to disease and deteriorating health outcomes continues. By supporting health surveys, USAID Yemen focuses on ensuring that the right data informs targeting to respond to a growing number of communities facing critical nutrition needs. The Standardized Monitoring and Assessment Relief Transitions (SMART) survey in Yemen provides a globally standardized methodology for undertaking data collection on the two most vital public health indicators used to assess the severity of humanitarian crisis: the nutritional status of children under five, and the mortality rate of the population. SMART builds the capacity of NGO and Ministry of Health partners to conduct localized surveys and assist in survey methodology. SMART also supports community health workers and midwives to incorporate appropriate counseling and referrals for women of reproductive age including expecting and new mothers.

Polio is a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease of the nervous system that causes paralysis. There is no cure for polio once it has been contracted and so prevention by vaccinating children at a young age is critical. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Yemen as having the highest risk of Wild Polio Virus importation in the Eastern Mediterranean Region due to the humanitarian situation and its impact on the country’s immunization program which has led to significant immunity gap among children less than five years old. To mitigate risk, an aggressive house-to-house campaign was led and resulted in improved child immunity. To ensure children are protected from polio, USAID will continue to support WHO efforts to address Yemen’s increased vulnerability to Wild Polio Virus and Vaccine Derived Polio Virus by strengthening field, laboratory and operational support for improved surveillance and routine polio campaigns.

Last updated: September 17, 2019

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