WASHINGTON, August 25, 2017 – The World Bank announced today an emergency US$200 million grant to support Yemen as it struggles to contain one of the world’s largest cholera outbreaks. This will strengthen the country's health, water and sanitation systems, addressing the source of the epidemic and improving systems to prevent future outbreaks.
The integrated support package financed by the new grant will include the training of 7,500 health workers, strengthening the local capacity to treat and manage cholera cases, provision of bulk chlorination of water supplies, rehabilitation of critical wastewater treatment plants, supporting mass communication and social mobilization campaigns, and supporting one the largest ever cholera vaccine campaigns aiming to reach millions of Yemenis.
“With Yemen suffering the world’s worst cholera outbreak and more than half a million people infected in just the last five months, its people desperately need access to clean water and sanitation, as well as a functioning health system,” said Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank. “The World Bank’s continuing investment in Yemen’s health and water infrastructure is even more critical in a time of conflict because we must respond not just to the immediate crisis but also ensure that, when peace is restored, its people are fit and ready to rebuild their country.”
Funded by the Crisis Response Window of IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the new grant will expand the scope of the ongoing Emergency Health and Nutrition Project (EHNP) to reach a total of 13 million Yemenis with essential health and nutrition services and 4.5 million Yemenis with access to water and sanitation services. To date, the EHNP has supported, among other activities, the delivery of over 500 tons of medicines and the successful treatment of more than 200,000 cases of cholera. The additional financing, implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) working closely with Yemeni health and water institutions, will build on these achievements.
“We are working around the clock to increase access to health services and to prevent infection,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “We are grateful to IDA for providing resources that will enable WHO and its partners to help local health institutions of Yemen strengthen surveillance capacity so they can detect the spread of cholera, target effective interventions, and bring this outbreak to an end.”
Combatting the cholera epidemic, which has reached over 500,000 cases, is complicated by the fact that less than half of health facilities in Yemen are functioning and nearly 15 million people have no access to medical care. The health part of the new program will accelerate support to current efforts to support 65 hospitals and more than 1,000 primary health care centers, new cholera treatment centers and oral rehydration points, along with strengthening the local disease surveillance and laboratory investigation capacity. In addition, the grant will support the health systems by establishing rapid response teams and training community health workers as well as mobile health and nutrition teams who can reach remote communities and provide medical services and lifesaving information; including on how to avoid infection from communicable diseases such as cholera and acute watery diarrhoea.
“Diseases like cholera thrive in conflict and crisis and prey upon the most vulnerable,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "In addition to treating the sick and malnourished, helping rebuild and repair water and sanitation systems is a critical step in ending the current outbreak and alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people -- as well as preventing future new crises. UNICEF is committed to helping build a better future for all Yemen."
In parallel with the rehabilitation and expansion of health services, the new grant will fund the repair of critical water and sewerage networks, and the protection and monitoring of the sources of water. This will include the rehabilitation of water and sanitation systems in cholera hot spots, especially urban centers, as well as in health facilities, schools, public markets and other communal gathering places. The expanded project will also focus on the building up of capacities at the institutional, community and household level to monitor the quality of water and to respond in the event of another public health crisis. The new financing brings the total of emergency support for Yemen over the past year to US$1.19 billion, with the bulk of the funds provided by grants from IDA.