Issue No. 38/2020 – Wednesday, 23 September 2020 (Press Release)
On 20 September, a Red Cross and Red Crescent treatment center for COVID-19 patients opened in Aden, Yemen. The center is a joint project by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Norwegian Red Cross and the Finnish Red Cross, with support from the Yemen Red Crescent Society, and is part of the ongoing, closely-coordinated response by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) to the urgent and extensive humanitarian needs in Yemen, exacerbated by the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Years of protracted conflict and severe damage to the socio-economic environment have resulted in an extremely weak health system and infrastructure, with half of the health facilities in Yemen currently closed and remaining centers operating at limited capacity, with shortages of staff and medical supplies. While COVID-19 is only one of the many challenges that the people of Yemen are facing, the danger posed by the virus increases the risk of a major health and food security crisis. Limited testing for COVID-19 makes it hard to realistically gauge the impact of the virus in Yemen. However, available data indicates that the overall case fatality rate of 27 per cent is one of the highest in the world, almost five times the global average. The new facility in Aden will provide care to COVID-19 patients and affected family members and contribute to ongoing efforts to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people of Yemen.
Located on the premises of Al-Joumhouria hospital, the COVID-19 care center will provide care free of charge to patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. The center employs more than 100 Yemenis and international medical and technical staff. It has a 60-bed capacity and provides services such as antibiotic treatment for co-infection secondary to COVID-19, oxygen therapy and monitoring, x-rays for COVID-19 diagnosis, respiratory physiotherapy and rehabilitation, basic care for non-communicable diseases (co- morbidities) and basic palliative care.
To increase the geographic coverage of the facility, a referral system from rural areas to Aden city has been put in place, in coordination with the Yemen Red Crescent Society, health-care providers and the health authorities. Moreover, branches of the Yemen Red Crescent Society in Aden and from the neighboring governates of Lahij, Al-Dhale’, and Abyan have been ramping up their risk communication and community engagement efforts, under the supervision of the Yemen Red Crescent Society headquarters in Sana’a.
In other parts of the country, the Yemen Red Crescent Society – with support from the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and partner National Societies active in Yemen – has been responding to the pandemic by expanding awareness-raising activities and promoting preventive measures, providing assistance in cash and in kind (infection, prevention and control kits) to highly vulnerable households, setting up triage in primary health-care centers, and delivering assistance to quarantine facilities and isolation centers set up by the authorities throughout the country. The Yemen Red Crescent Society, together with other Movement partners in-country, has updated its COVID-19 response to cover the period until August 2021.
In addition, the ICRC has been providing medical supplies, hygiene materials, food, and personal protective equipment to several hospitals, isolation centers and places of detention, in coordination with the relevant authorities and other actors.
Beyond its activities to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Movement continues to respond actively to the humanitarian consequences of the protracted conflict and natural disasters (such as recent country-wide floods) that have affected Yemen over the years. This response is regularly reviewed and coordinated at strategic, operational and technical levels among partners under the Yemen Movement Coordination Agreement.