Healthcare System in Yemen: Impact of Famine

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 2
Words: 553
Reading time:
2 min

Famine is characterized by an inadequate food supply that causes starvation, malnutrition, disease, and death. Famine is caused by various factors, including natural calamities, war, and poor food policies. For the past five years, Yemen has struggled with internal conflict and war, with no indication of immediate peace. The World Bank Group (2021) states that the war has led to the death of over 100,000 people, with an additional 131,000 individuals losing their life as a result of famine, particularly due to infectious diseases and starvation. The IPC Acute Food Insecurity classifies famine as the fifth and most austere stage of food insecurity. To date, over half a million people in Yemen are faced with famine, with another five million falling under the fourth category (emergency conditions) and 11 million under the third stage (crisis level) (World Bank Group, 2021). The figures point to the severe impact of the conflict in Yemen.

Famine has led to devastating effects on the country, including a near-collapse of the healthcare system in Yemen. The country continues to experience the world’s largest cholera outbreak in history, affecting over 2 million people between 2017 and 2019 (ICRC, 2021). War has led to the tightening of food and medical supplies, mainly imported due to the breakdown in the transport system. The war has impacted the delivery of healthcare services, with small and very remote facilities attending to long queues of sickly citizens. The famine has crippled the entire healthcare system, with the state of the facilities reflecting the desperate need on the surviving population.

The operational health infrastructure, including primary care centers and hospitals, has crumbled under the burden of the war. As a result, a significant share of the citizenry encounters difficulties when seeking medical intervention. According to the ICRC (2021), a mere 50 percent of health facilities are somehow in operation. Additionally, over three-quarters of the population is faced with momentous encounters in accessing domestic water, food, and the right to use health care services. The sector is further burdened by a declining workforce, poor equipment, and reduced medical supplies that altogether hinder healthcare services.

Children have been the worst affected, as over 2 million kids under the age of 5 continue to suffer from acute malnutrition. Save the Children (n.d.) indicates that over 85,000 children aged five and below in Yemen might have lost their lives due to the effect of extreme hunger from the time when the crisis started. The youngsters mainly die because the vital bodily organs fail to function due to an immense lack of proper nutrition, causing the organs to stop. As the daily bombardment with airstrikes and ground operations continue, the Yemeni children have to pay the ultimate price by losing their precious lives to the crisis. As a number of the children die through bullets and bombing, a larger count of the kids are exposed to acute starvation, resulting in death that can be avoided.

It is evident that famine due to the war has intensified health challenges and caused feeble administration of the healthcare sector in Yemen. The children are the most affected by the deteriorating health status as the conditions worsen amid the ongoing war. The current health situation is denoted by low vaccination rates, increasing child malnutrition levels, the eruption of infectious diseases, and poor maternal health.


Access to healthcare and medical facilities – Yemen. (2021). Web.

Children in Yemen suffering from severe acute malnutrition. (n.d.) Web.

Health sector in Yemen – Policy note. (2021). Web.