Strategically located near key shipping routes and bordering oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Yemen was plunged into chaos last year when Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels seized the capital Sanaa. The World Health Organization has warned that Yemen risks an imminent collapse in its health system.
The WHO statistics revealed that 3,487 people have been injured as of April 17, while 994 have lost their lives. However, the UN agency stressed that the true numbers were probably higher because many people were unable to reach hospitals for treatment.
The WHO also warned that the impoverished Arabian peninsula nation's health services were on the brink of collapse with life-saving medicines and key medical supplies running out.
WHO said, "Power cuts and fuel shortages also threaten to disrupt the vaccine cold chain, leaving millions of children below the age of five unvaccinated. This increases the risk of communicable diseases such as measles, which is prevalent in Yemen, as well as polio, which has been eliminated but is now at risk of reappearing. The number of patients able to access health facilities had plummeted since the escalation of hostilities, with a 40% drop in the number of daily consultations. The major hospitals will soon be completely unable to provide humanitarian and emergency services or to perform operations and provide intensive care to needy patients. According to the health ministry, life-saving and health protection programs will gradually collapse due to lack of medicines for chronic diseases such as kidney dialysis, cardiac and oncology. Laboratory and blood transfusion services are also at risk."
A coalition of Sunni Arab nations, which is led by Saudi Arabia, launched air strikes last month against the rebels, vowing to restore the authority of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Riyadh as the rebels advanced on his southern refuge of Aden.