Direct Relief has airlifted a large supply of life-saving medicine and medical equipment to Yemen, arriving as the Covid-10 pandemic spreads through a country whose health systems have been deeply disrupted by five years of civil war.
The Direct Relief shipment includes 20 of Direct Relief’s ICU Critical Supply Modules, each with medications and supplies selected to treat up to 500 critically ill Covid-19 patients, along with 150 oxygen concentrators, five ventilators, and large quantities of personal protective equipment.
“This shipment comes at a very critical time and will have immediate impact,” Dr. Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, Yemen’s ambassador to the United States, told Direct Relief. For the people of Yemen, “it is a clear message to them that they don’t stand alone.”
In countries across the developing world, the equipment to deliver oxygen to Covid-19 patients is in critically short supply. Oxygen is among the most important needs of severely ill Covid-19 patients, who often arrive at hospitals with extremely low blood-oxygen levels.
“Many countries are now experiencing difficulties in obtaining oxygen concentrators,” World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a June 24 speech. Oxygen availability, he said, “has been an area of intense focus for WHO since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Torn by a civil war that since 2015 has displaced more than 800,000 people, Yemen by last year was already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United Nations warned. Authorities estimate that fewer than half the country’s health facilities are currently fully operational.
“The worst-case scenario—which is the one we’re facing now—means that the death toll from the virus could exceed the combined toll of war, disease and hunger over the last five years” in Yemen, said Lise Grande, the head of the UN’s humanitarian operations in Yemen, in an interview with CNN last month.
The shipment for Yemen departed Direct Relief’s Santa Barbara warehouse last week, scheduled to arrive this week in Dubai.
From Dubai, it will be flown into Aden, Yemen via the World Food Programme Logistics Cluster.
Direct Relief partner Yemen Aid will deliver the emergency supplies to Covid-19 treatment centers in Aden, Taiz, Lahij, and Abyan.