Yemen High-Level Pledging Event
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-General of the World Health Organization
3 April 2018
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
As we have heard from many speakers today, three years of war in Yemen have led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and one of its most severe food crises. It has also resulted in the world’s largest cholera epidemic, a major diphtheria outbreak, and the virtual collapse of the nation’s health system.
WHO estimates that only half of Yemen’s health facilities remain fully functional. Health workers have not been paid regularly since September 2016 and many facilities are severely understaffed as a result.
WHO and other Health Cluster partners are increasingly being asked to fill gaps created by the collapsing health institutions, including paying salaries, procuring medical supplies, and providing essential health services to millions of Yemenis.
This year, the Health Cluster aims to reach 12.3 million people with life-saving health services. To do this, health actors together require 572 million U.S. dollars. We thank the many donors who have generously supported the health sector during 2017. And we count on your sustained and generous support for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the ongoing violence, political constraints are limiting the payment of health workers, obstructing humanitarian projects, and delaying the delivery of urgently-needed supplies.
The logistical capacities of WHO and partners are being challenged as supplies cannot reach Yemen fast enough. When they do arrive, all of us face obstacles in distributing them to those who need them most. Life-saving vaccination campaigns stop and start due to politics.
People are dying due to political dithering and red tape. If we cannot stop the fighting, we must at least find ways to address the political obstacles to the delivery of life-saving services. The Yemeni people need not only the financial support of our donor countries, they need your political support and advocacy to address these challenges.
Moreover, neither a traditional humanitarian nor a classic developmental response on their own will be enough to stem the suffering. We have to employ a new way of working – a common strategy that involves all actors in addressing acute emergency needs and, at the same time, strengthening the resilience of Yemeni institutions and society.
One of the recurring themes of today’s conference is that there is no humanitarian answer to the crisis in Yemen and that, ultimately, only peace will stop the suffering. Parties on both sides of the conflict must have the courage and the solidarity with the Yemeni people to arrive at a political resolution. Concrete steps must be taken for peace, and ensuring unhindered access to health care can be one of the key stepping stones in that process.