Yemen's blood bank faces threat of closure within days

Yemen's blood bank faces threat of closure within days
From Al Jazeera - August 11, 2017

Yemen's blood bank has sent out an urgent appeal to anyone who will listen as war and a blockade on the capital, Sanaa, may force the centre to close within a week.

The National Blood Transfusion Centre director, Dr Adnan al-Hakimi, said the crisis emerged after French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) informed the bank it was suspending its aid after more than two years of work.

"We appeal to all humanitarian organisations in the international community and all financial donors to support the centre, as our medical supplies have nearly run out," said Hakimi.

An MSF spokeswoman said the charity had handed over its support for the blood bank to the World Health Organization.

"We will only be able to work for one more week, and after that if the humanitarian organisations do not mobilise to support the national centre, it will shut down."

The blood bank says it treats some 3,000 Yemenis a month who suffer from cancer, kidney failure, and thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder that causes severe anaemia.

But a trifecta of war, disease, and famine has left the bank struggling to keep up with spiralling demand, with basic supplies all but impossible to secure in a country locked in by port and airport blockades.

"We have been impacted by the overall situation in Yemen, including the economic collapse," Hakimi said.

Less than half of Yemen's hospitals are still up and running two years into a war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control Sanaa, and a government allied with an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

READ MORE: Thousands die due to Yemen airport closure: NRC

The country's main international airport in Sanaa is also blockaded, with access limited to a select few UN aid flights by the Saudi-led coalition, which controls the airspace.

The war has destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure and pushed the country - long the Arab world's poorest state - to the brink of official famine.

More than 8,300 people have died in the conflict with another 47,700 wounded and millions displaced, according to the WHO.

'What if it shuts down?'


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