Yemen’s health care system is facing existential threats, including institutional collapse, in large part because of the yearslong conflict, according to a policy note released this week by the World Bank. One of the key issues is the country’s heavy reliance on external financing, which is quickly drying up.
Donor support to the country ramped up significantly as the conflict broke out in 2014 and leading up to 2019, but then it saw a sharp contraction. Arab countries have dropped off some of their support in recent years, and the United Kingdom cut funding. The World Bank noted that starting in early 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic decline, funding from other sources also took hits.
External financing for health peaked at $605 million in 2018. It then fell to $370 million the next year and has continued its precipitous fall. The current appeal for Yemen from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is only 54% funded, with the United States as the top donor, accounting for nearly a quarter of the $2.1 billion in total funding to date. Other key contributors include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — both involved in the war — as well as European donors. “The conflict has led to the virtual collapse of basic social services, including Yemen’s fragile health care system,” according to the report.