Yemen: Red Cross/Crescent family opens COVID-19 care centre ahead of possible second wave
The 60-bed treatment centre in the southern city of Aden includes an X-ray room, a high dependency unit, care wards, a triage area, and a laboratory. Several tons of medical supplies and equipment were brought in under the supervision of an international medical team.
Over half of Yemen’s health care facilities are shuttered due to years of conflict, putting medical care out of reach for too many residents. Figures from the World Health Organization show that Yemen has had 585 deaths from 2026 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the world’s highest rate of death per positive caseload.
The new COVID-19 centre located on the premises of Al Joumhouriya hospital in Aden is a joint effort from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Norwegian Red Cross (NRC) and Finnish Red Cross (FRC), with the support of the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS).
Health authorities in Yemen are reporting new cases in the southern governorates; continued spread of the virus is highly likely. Resources are low: residents are making basic face masks for their loved ones and face shields for medical personnel in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.
“There are too few facilities that can treat COVID-19 in southern Yemen. In the event of continued cases, this new centre can provide help,” said Alexandre Equey, the head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen. “When COVID-19 hit Aden hard a few months ago, many hospitals shut their doors. People could not afford medicine, and other infectious diseases resurfaced. When people contract COVID-19, they must have a place they can go for medical assistance.”
“Solidarity and resilience are key. A political agreement to end the suffering of millions is a must. Yemenis have been longing to get back on their feet to rebuild their lives again," Equey added.
“Our volunteers are racing the clock to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We distribute food, essential goods, hygiene materials and protective equipment to people in camps and health facilities to ramp up COVID-19 preventive measures,” said Dr Fouad Al Makhithy, the Secretary-General of the YRCS.
The ongoing hostilities and a lack of medical supplies have forced the shutdown of many health care facilities in Yemen. The health system has been struggling to provide basic care for hundreds of thousands of people whose lives threatened by potentially curable diseases, malnutrition and war-related wounds.
A lack of electricity, fuel and a high level of inflation that makes food, medicine and other basic goods almost unaffordable for most of the communities, have all combined to make life extremely difficult.
“Coronavirus is affecting us all, but it has hit some much harder than others. The people of Yemen have been facing very serious consequences of the pandemic compounded with the ongoing repercussions of the conflict. We are glad that we will be contributing to the alleviation of the many-layered sufferings of people by providing healthcare for COVID-19 patients,” said Bernt G. Apeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Red Cross.
"It is hard to think of the people in a more difficult situation than that of the Yemenis. Millions of people are already suffering from conflict, food insecurity and a weakened health system. We hope that this centre helps them survive this global pandemic with the least damage possible,” Kristiina Kumpula, Secretary General of the Finnish Red Cross, said.
The ICRC, YRCS and other Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have been responding to the pandemic across Yemen, by providing personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, food, and hygiene materials on regular basis to hospitals and isolation centres.
Notes on the COVID-19 centre:
- The ICRC set up a referral system for patients from rural areas to the COVID-19 centre in Aden in coordination with other healthcare providers, health authorities and the YRCS.
- The centre will provide its services free of charge. Patients will be able to communicate with their family members while they are receiving treatment.
- More than 100 locally hired Yemenis and 20 international medical and technical staff will work at the Centre.
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