Yemen | News | Keeping Yemen from the brink of famine: Italy and WHO fight malnutrition

Keeping Yemen from the brink of famine: Italy and WHO fight malnutrition

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3 October 2019 – WHO and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) are working together to fight malnutrition in Yemen. This valued partner has generously donated critical funding in the amount of EUR 2 million in support of the nutrition response in Yemen. This  is a testament to the Government of Italy’s sustained commitment to the people of Yemen. This new funding is a symbol of the continuing partnership between AICS, WHO, and the Government of Italy, which started in 2018.

People on the brink of starvation

Almost 20 million people in Yemen are food insecure, while an estimated quarter of a million are on the brink of starvation.

“I am grateful for this partnership, and the trust built between our agencies. We are both committed to meeting the needs of over 50 000 children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) with medical complications. We have saved the lives of over 8,000 children but the fight is far from over—and together we have made progress.” said Altaf Musani, WHO Representative in Yemen.

AICS and the Government of Italy, along with other active partners, are frontrunners in the fight against malnutrition, giving support to the response in Yemen. People are barely able to survive rather than thrive, and their immune systems are compromised by lack of nutrition, which is even more apparent in children, leaving them weak to fight multiple diseases and infections. 

“Yemen is a country where more than half of the population is unemployed, due to destroyed civil and social infrastructure—so, this support is truly life-saving on all fronts. A family does not have to lose everything to treat their starving child,” said Altaf Musani, WHO Representative in Yemen. 

This critical project aims to treat thousands of SAM children with medical complications. When these children are treated in these centers, their parents are relieved of the financial and emotional burden of their child’s suffering. This contribution is representative of half of what was pledged in February’s Yemen Pledge Conference, and has been essential to the nutrition response moving forward.

Note to editors

The 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP) requires US$4.2 billion to assist more than 20 million Yemenis including 10 million people who rely entirely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs every month. As of today, the YHRP is 56% funded, we need to close this gap. At the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen convened by the UN Secretary-General in February 2019, the United Nations and humanitarian partners were promised USD$ 2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs. Humanitarian agencies are appealing to donors to provide funds as quickly as possible.

Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s) 27 426
Total health expenditure (% of general government expenditure) 3.9
Primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 1.6
Life expectancy 65.3

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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