Providing Health Services in Yemen Despite Insecurity

  UNICEF Yemen

Yemen has faced a deteriorating security situation following its political uprising in 2011. The Southwest Asian nation is currently operating with an interim government and has experienced a disruption of development programming, public services and health services, further complicated by a departure of stakeholders. In 2013 a roadmap for universal health coverage (UHC) was developed in a Providing for Health (P4H) scoping mission but has not yet been implemented because of this instability.

The situation now is very different than that of one year ago, and a new roadmap and plans need to be developed. The WHO office would like to be able to develop a basic health service package and to contribute to the recovery of facilities, some of which have been destroyed, looted, and bombarded. These facilities need to be equipped and staffed.

“There is an opportunity to conduct dialogue with emergency and humanitarian stakeholders on health system issues, and integrate this into health programming,” said Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, WHO Representative in Yemen. “We need to develop transitional plans and to have flexibility in planning to adapt.” Within the context of the UHC Partnership, the WHO can lead the health cluster and facilitate dialogue.

There are a number of ways to involve the humanitarian response in the health system. Key actors can be informed of the needs and gaps, and come up with a transitional plan in which they can be implementing partners. At least 13 humanitarian actors have a presence on the ground with knowledge and staff, which can be better coordinated.

The interim government is transitioning to a federal system, following a 10-month dialogue and deliberation process called the “National Dialogue Conference” held from March 2013 to January 2014. According to Dr. Shadoul, this will change the entire health system and consequently require new policies. The new constitution is currently being drafted, though the transitional government’s term has recently been extended.

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