– The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has begun its support to the United Nations (UN) COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in Yemen where cases have recently surged. The Organization is providing vaccinations at five health centres in Aden, Ma’rib, Shabwah, Taiz and Lahj.
Yemen received 360,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility on 31 March. The roll-out of the vaccination campaign began on 20 April.
COVID-19 has had severe consequences for the health, well-being and income of people in Yemen. The full impact can never be truly known, however, due to limited testing and reporting across the country.
The monthly rate of positive COVID-19 cases reached over 2,400 in March, which was the highest confirmed in one month since the start of the pandemic. In April, the case rate continued to be higher than in previous months with more than 1,500 cases. As of early May, the case fatality rate reached over 19 per cent – the highest in the region.
“Achieving wide-reaching immunity is vital to stopping the COVID-19 pandemic in its tracks. IOM is happy to support the vaccination campaign in Yemen to help reach that very aim,” said Christa Rottensteiner, IOM Yemen Chief of Mission.
“It is extremely important that all vulnerable communities in Yemen have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. IOM welcomes the Government of Yemen’s decision to take an inclusive approach to the vaccine roll-out by including migrants in need. Our communities will not be healthy until everyone is healthy.”
So far, over 18,500 health workers and people with medical conditions have been vaccinated across Yemen. In the next rounds of the vaccination campaign, migrants are expected to be included as per the national plan. IOM estimates that more than 32,000 migrants are currently stranded across Yemen, with limited access to health care, hygiene or other COVID-19 prevention and treatment resources.
The vaccines being administered by IOM in the five health centres are provided through the COVAX Facility, which is a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Prior to the start of the vaccination campaign, IOM doctors were trained in administering the vaccine by WHO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Public Health and Population.
The health centres where IOM is helping to carry out the vaccination campaign are already supported by the Organization through other means, including the provision of medicine, supplies, equipment, salary support and training. IOM is able to work with these health centres thanks to support from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the Government of Japan.
For greater effectiveness of vaccination campaigns across the world, IOM calls for the removal of any barriers that migrants and forcibly displaced persons may face in accessing the jab.
The Organization has been supporting governments through health system strengthening, outreach to share information and combat vaccine hesitancy among communities, and operational support for transport and storage of doses, among other activities.
IOM has also been implementing an extensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic since its start in 2020 through other health services such as the construction of quarantine centres, enhancing COVID-19 diagnostics through PCR testing, risks communication and community engagement and health worker training.