According to the UNDP, Yemen ranks among the bottom 20 countries in terms of preparedness to respond to COVID-19, and the top 20 countries in terms of vulnerability to the impacts of the pandemic. With a population of over 30 million, Yemen has only three doctors and seven hospital beds per 10,000 people. No more than 51% of its health facilities are fully operational, while two-thirds of Yemenis have no access to basic healthcare.
While Yemen's 41 United Nations programmes continue delivering much needed humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations, safeguarding the health and well-being of humanitarian workers amidst COVID-19 is crucial to ensure uninterrupted work. At the moment, there are 14 UN Volunteer health workers deployed through UNDP in UN clinics in Yemen, to look after UN staff and their families in four governorates, with more expected to join in other regions.
As UN clinics in Yemen step up their preparedness for COVID-19, UN Volunteer healthcare professionals are actively engaged in raising awareness on preventive measures to keep humanitarian workers safe, enabling them to keep delivering much needed assistance to vulnerable populations. UN Volunteer Emergency Nurses and Doctors are on high alert while continuing to provide medical care to UN personnel and their families in Hodeida, Ibb, Sa’ada and Sana’a.
UN Volunteer Emergency Doctor Zain Alabdeen Al-Gafri joined the UN clinic in Hodeida in June 2019. He is one of three national emergency doctors serving with UNDP in UN clinics across Yemen, providing primary and emergency healthcare, and performing medical screening and periodic medical examinations of UN personnel and their families, among other duties. ©UNV, 2019
UN Volunteer Emergency Nurse Asrar Ali was around to support with the establishment of the UN clinic in Ibb, Yemen, in July 2019. She helps ensure medical preparedness and availability of necessary supplies at the clinic. Preventive measures taken to prepare for COVID-19 included equipping UN personnel with knowledge and basic protective equipment. ©UNV, 2019
Well before recording the first COVID-19 case in the country, we could sense fear was affecting everyone around. Early on, we started equipping ourselves and our colleagues with facts to face the fear. --Ebtesam Al-Dabli (left) and Nejood Qamim, UN Volunteer Emergency Nurses at the UN clinic in Sa’ada, Yemen.
UN Volunteer Lab Technician Borhan Al-Ghaili has been serving with the UN clinic in Sana’a since 2016.
The COVID-19 outbreak meant introducing extra precautionary measures when dealing with patients or performing lab tests. This is necessary to ensure everyone’s health and safety. --Borhan Al Ghaili, UN Volunteer Lab Technician
As thousands of health workers are on the frontline facing the COVID-19 pandemic globally, worrying about the safety of their own and their loved ones back home is something they deal with constantly. Ensuring personal protective equipment is available where most needed is essential if we are to stop the virus. --UN Volunteer Emergency Nurse Maryam Al-Omaissi at the UN clinic in Sana’a, Yemen
Contributions of UN Volunteers in support of humanitarian workers extend beyond their day-to-day tasks. In fragile contexts such as in Yemen, caring for the most vulnerable depends on every single contribution to sustain aid delivery mechanisms.