Humanitarian Medical Air Bridge in Yemen

Saoud Al Azani from Ibb has come to Sana’a specifically to receive haemodialysis treatment in Al Jumhoori Hospital in Sana’a. She travels from Ibb to Sana’a every week for treatment. “It is very exhausting, especially with my sickness, but we cannot afford to live in Sana’a.” (Photo: WHO/Sadeq Al-Wesabi)

Sana’a, 16 September 2018: The United Nations is working to open a humanitarian medical air bridge for Yemeni civilians who are suffering from conditions which cannot be treated inside Yemen.

“The aim is to help patients suffering from cancer, chronic diseases and congenital anomalies receive the treatment they need,” said Dr. Nevio Zagaria, the Representative of the World Health Organization in Yemen. “Twelve conditions have been agreed. It’s so important that people who have these conditions receive support and care.”

“The civilians who will benefit include patients suffering from leukemia, early stage tumors, cervical and thyroid cancer, and patients who need radiotherapy, and bone marrow and kidney transplants,” said Dr. Zagaria.

On Saturday 15 September, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Ms. Lise Grande initialed a note verbale with authorities in Sanaa to enable the medical transfer of critically ill patients, by chartered air flight, to a medical facility that is equipped to manage such cases.

The World Health Organization is working with all parties to confirm the operating procedures for the humanitarian air bridge. An independent international company has been contracted to review the medical records of the patients who are selected to ensure they are eligible for the service. The humanitarian air bridge will operate for an initial trial period of six months.

“We are truly grateful to everyone who is supporting this air bridge. We hope the first flight is ready as soon as possible,” said Dr. Zagaria. “Eighty per cent of patients for this flight are women and children. The air bridge is one of their last hopes.”

Twenty-two million people, 75 per cent of the population in Yemen, require some form of humanitarian assistance. The UN and partners are requesting USD 3 billion through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan to support millions of people in need across the country. To date, USD 1.92 billion, 65 per cent of the resources required, has been received.