With the outbreak of conflict in Yemen, health centers have to shut down. Forces continue to attack hospitals and health care centers. There are medical shortages as the conflict hinders the delivery of medical supplies. As a result, children cannot receive the crucial vaccines and treatments they need to fight communicable diseases.
Vaccines save 2.5 million children worldwide from preventable diseases. Without basic vaccines, about 1.5 million children die. There are already cases of Measles reported in Yemen. Doctors are worried about reports of other diseases like Polio. If children in Yemen continue to not receive the vaccines, then these two diseases could continue to spread.
Parents are hesitant to take their children to health care centers to get the vaccines because the centers continue to be targets for attack, and because just getting there is dangerous. That leaves the health workers going into the field to vaccinate children. This can make it difficult to properly track how much of the child population has been vaccinated.
Another often overlooked aspect of vaccinating children is the protection of the vaccines themselves. Doctors have to make sure that vaccine centers maintain a supply of the vaccines needed. However, the conflict can make it difficult for WHO officials to deliver the medical supplies to the vaccine centers. Fuel shortages also cause problems, as there needs to be enough to ensure that the vaccines have the proper cold chain needed.
Issues like this can limit the number of children that can be reached and vaccinated. If supplies cannot be replenished or maintained, then it becomes difficult to keep children safe from diseases.
Contributing to the issue is food insecurity. Before the civil war, Yemen was already importing most of its food. Now, with conflict preventing food from being delivered, Yemen is struggling to feed its people. Without the nutrients to stay healthy and prevent malnutrition, the children’s immune systems are at a higher risk for contracting diseases.
Diseases could spread rapidly, as children in Yemen do not have access to enough food and clean water, people live in close proximity in refuge areas, and there is limited health access. The WHO workers try to combat the spread with consistent monitoring of medical supplies and going out and finding those who need the vaccines.
– Katherine Hewitt