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Failing health system leaves millions of Yemenis disease-prone: WHO

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Yemeni infants suffering from malnutrition wait for treatment in the hallway of a medical center in Bani Hawat, on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sana'a, on January 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a deepening health crisis in Yemen, which is under Saudi military aggression, saying lack of funds is putting millions of Yemenis at risk of disease and malnutrition.

Nevio Zagaria, WHO's acting representative in Yemen, said in a statement on Thursday that nearly 15 million Yemenis lacked access to essential health services. 

"With more than 14.8 million people lacking access to basic healthcare, the current lack of funds means the situation will get much worse," media outlets quoted Zagaria as saying.

The WHO official said that about 4.5 million Yemenis, including 2 million children, need assistance in treating or preventing malnutrition, a 150-percent increase since late 2014.

"We urgently need resources to help support the health system as a whole, and are calling on donors to scale up their support before more innocent lives are lost unnecessarily," Zagaria noted

The agency says only 45 percent of Yemen's health facilities are fully functional and accessible.

According to WHO, highly-specialized medical staff have left the country, and the health workers that have remained have not received regular salaries since September.

A Yemeni child receives polio vaccination during an immunization campaign at a health center on February 20, 2017, in the capital Sana'a. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, lack of money has forced al-Tharwa hospital in the Red Sea port of Hudaydah to stop providing food to its patients. The hospital is the main functioning health facility in the region.

"There are acute shortages of certain medicines and we need more fuel to ensure the hospital has electricity," the hospital director, Khaled Suhail, said in a statement. 

Suhail added that he did not know if the hospital would be open in a month's time.

Last year, UN agencies received less than 60 percent of their appeal for USD 182 million to support Yemen's health sector.

Earlier this month, the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned that an estimated 7.3 million people were in need of immediate food aid across Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in a bid to reinstall the country’s former government and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The Saudi military aggression has claimed the lives of over 11,400 Yemenis, including women and children, according to figures released by local Yemeni groups.

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