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Children bearing brunt of Yemen’s war-torn health system: NGO

21 December 2016 10:58

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An international NGO promoting the rights of children says Yemen’s health system is on the verge of breaking apart, with some eight million kids in need of basic healthcare amid a deadly Saudi war on the impoverished nation.

The Save the Children Fund delivered the warning on Tuesday in a report titled Struggling to Survive: Stories from Yemen’s Collapsing Health System, which is based on factual information and interviews with practitioners and locals.

The report said at least 1,219 children had died as a direct result of warfare in the country, adding, however, that the “invisible causalities of Yemen’s war” are much higher.

“A chronic lack of medical supplies and staff are causing an additional 10,000 preventable deaths per year,” the report said.

Yemeni children pose for a photo at a slum in the capital, Sana’a, on November 9, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

 

“An estimated 1,000 children are dying every week from preventable killers like diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections,” Edward Santiago, the body’s Yemen country director, was cited in the report as saying.

Saudi Arabia initiated the military campaign in March 2015 to reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a dedicated Riyadh ally. Around 11,400 people have so far fallen victim to Saudi raids, according to the latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.

“Even before the war tens of thousands of Yemeni children were dying of preventable causes,” said Santiago.

The Fund further said more than 270 health facilities had been damaged as a result of the conflict. Recent estimates suggest that more than half of the 3,500 assessed health facilities have been closed or are only functioning partially, it added.

The situation has left eight million children without access to basic healthcare, the report said, citing UN figures.

In August, Doctors Without Borders warned that the health system in the war-ridden nation was close to collapsing due to the Saudi military aggression.

Back in June, the United Nations reported that some 10,000 Yemeni children, all under the age of five, had lost their lives during the previous year alone. The deaths were caused by “totally avoidable and preventable diseases,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at the time.

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