According to Physicians for Human Rights, by the end of 2017, around 50% of Yemen’s health facilities were closed due to indiscriminate attacks, as well as lack of medical supplies and medical staff. There have been at least 23 attacks on health facilities and 76 cases where humanitarian access was denied. Airstrikes are the main common type of attacks on medical facilities. In December, fighters invaded the same hospital and threatened to kill patients and workers. Parties to the conflict plundered more than 900 units of humanitarian or medical supplies.
Starting November 2017, the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on ports in Yemen. The blockade limited the access of goods, humanitarian aid, and fuel, which is used to power generators in hospitals and pump water. In many cases shipments were either delayed or diverted. Houthi rebels have also confiscated food and medical supplies, and interfered with aid workers’ aid delivery. By the end of 2017, it is estimated that only about the third of the medical supplies needed are allowed to enter the country.
Around 16 million people reportedly lack access to adequate healthcare. Moreover, around 17 million people do not have proper access to food, rendering 8 million people on the verge of starvation. The number of people suffering from preventable diseases such as cholera and diphtheria is constantly on the rise. By the end of 2017, it is estimated that nearly one million people have been infected with cholera. According to the World Health Organization, there have been over 2,000 cases of death due to cholera in 2017.
According to Save the Children, up to 50,000 children might have died in 2017 of famine or preventable diseases due to the collapse of the country’s health care system. In November 2017, medical supplies and vaccines needed to treat cholera remained in Djibouti and were not allowed to enter the country due to the imposed blockade.