ADEN – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced $3 million in new programs with United Nations partners building on previous U.S.-funded activities to support COVID-19 response in Yemen.
Partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), these USAID-supported programs will help Yemen transition from emergency response to a more sustainable, long-term phase to integrate COVID-19 vaccines and strengthen the health system to deliver critical COVID-19 care for patients in intensive care units.
“We are transitioning our COVID-19 assistance from the earlier emergency response activities to a longer-term approach which integrates COVID-19 care into the overall health system,” said USAID Country Director for Yemen Kimberlee Bell. “In coordination with our Yemeni health partners, USAID has provided assistance in the past to improve local health systems. Today we are thrilled to announce these two new contributions which will improve lifesaving health services for the Yemeni people.”
Under a new program of approximately $1.9 million, WHO will provide spare parts, repairs, and maintenance for eight oxygen plants at health facilities and support running costs and connection of oxygen plants to COVID-19 intensive care units at five hospitals. WHO will also train health workers to provide COVID-19 care to critically ill patients in at least five referral hospitals.
The USAID-funded program will also take the next steps to coordinate and integrate routine COVID-19 vaccination into the health care system in the governorates of Abyan, Hadramout, Lahj, and Taiz. This includes support for staffing of primary health care services and at district hospitals, as well as community-based outreach to boost the number of Yemenis getting vaccinated.
“Thanks to our continuing partnership with USAID, WHO will be able to scale up access to quality care by severely ill patients suffering from COVID-19 and other diseases in five referral hospitals across four governorates – Aden, Hadramout, and Marib and Taiz,” said Dr Arturo Pesigan, WHO Representative to Yemen. “Our partnership with USAID is also critical for transitioning WHO’s support to Yemen’s health systems from emergency relief to more sustainable programming.”
USAID is also contributing $1.1 million to UNICEF to train 750 health workers on community-based COVID-19 services, community mobilization, and infection prevention and control. The program will provide financial support to 1,200 community health workers over a three- month period to enable them to make home visits. This will improve the ability of health workers to prevent and respond to COVID outbreaks.
These new programs follow previous USAID funding to WHO and UNICEF in 2021 and 2022 which provided 25,000 oxygen cylinders to 25 hospitals and medical facilities at the height of the pandemic. USAID, through WHO, also helped deploy vaccination teams who provided COVID-19 vaccination and outreach to remote communities. With USAID funding, UNICEF provided 42 solar-powered refrigerators to districts in 11 governorates to keep vaccines cool where electricity is in short supply. UNICEF also trained midwives, health workers, and health volunteers and reached 4.5 million people with messages promoting COVID-19 vaccination broadcasted via 25 community radio stations,12 private sector community radio stations and four television channels in 133 districts.