Essential Anti-Malarial Drugs Arrives in Yemen: IOM

A cargo plane, chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), arrived in Sana’a International Airport, carrying 8.9 tonnes of anti-malarial drugs to be distributed to nearly 2,000 health facilities across Yemen.

This essential medication is entering the country through an IOM-managed programme with support from the Global Fund’s Middle East Response Project.

Six years of conflict have taken a massive toll on Yemen’s public health system—only 50 per cent of facilities are fully functional. COVID-19 is leading to further strain on an overstretched system, with basic medicines and medical supplies in high demand but severely short supply.

The drugs airlifted in by IOM will be utilized by Yemen’s National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to help more than 100,000 people prevent the most severe effects of malaria. Those at risk of severe complications from the mosquito-borne infectious disease, including pregnant women and children, will receive the drastically needed medication, as will people who have extremely limited access to health services like internally displaced Yemenis, migrants and refugees.

Malaria poses a significant public health problem in Yemen and it affects some of the poorest populations in rural Yemen.

Approximately two-thirds of Yemen’s 28 million strong population live in malaria endemic areas, putting them at risk of contracting the disease. However, nearly 90 per cent of malaria transmission is localized to the Tehama region and surrounding areas in the west of the country, which is also known as the Red Sea coastal plain of the Arabian Peninsula; home to some of Yemen’s most populated cities. Geographical altitude, seasonal temperatures, humidity and agricultural activities in coastal valleys increase the intensity of transmission in the region.

Since 2017, IOM has implemented the Middle East Response Project funded by the Global Fund to support national programmes in the implementation of HIV, TB and malaria activities in five countries, including Yemen. The Global Fund’s Middle East Response Project aims to deliver uninterrupted care for essential services through the provision of diagnostic, treatment and prevention services, in often challenging operating environments.

IOM in collaboration with the Government of Yemen, Ministry of Public Health and Population and NMCP, are implementing Malaria prevention and treatment activities across Yemen through the Global Fund supported MER project. These include vector control, case management, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation which all contribute to the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2019 to 2021).

In addition to this cargo, a total of 2.3 million long lasting insecticidal nets have recently been brought into the country to be distributed across multiple governorates. Since the start of 2019, over 300,000 health workers have been trained on diagnosis and treatment management of Malaria, including on Anti-Malarial Drugs and management of severe Malaria, as part of this Project. Additionally, more than 1,000 community health volunteers were trained and mobilized to diagnose, treat and refer malaria cases in the community.