Aminah Mohsen (R), 70, receives medical treatment for H1N1 in a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, on Feb. 17, 2019. Aminah Mohsen is suffering from swine flu, also known as H1N1 influenza. Plagued by cholera, malnutrition, diphtheria and now swine flu, the Arab country is unable to cope with the most deadly epidemics as its four years of civil war has almost destroyed its healthcare system. (Xinhua/Mohamed al-Azaki) The photo goes with the article titled "Feature: Lethal swine flu spreads in war-torn Yemen amid collapse of health system."
by Mohamed al-Azaki
SANAA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Aminah Mohsen, 70, is another patient arriving at a public hospital in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa.
She is suffering from swine flu, also known as H1N1 influenza, which breaks down the immune system, stops breathing and heart beat, and could kill the patient in fewer than 24 hours if not treated early.
The 70-year-old woman started to have fever, a sore throat and bad cough three days ago. She was examined in several clinics and then moved the public hospital, where she was diagnosed with H1N1 epidemic.
"We, in the Republican Teaching Hospital Authority, receives at least three confirmed H1N1 cases every day," said Fouad al-Radhi, deputy head of the hospital.
"The cases are increasing and we fear the catastrophe is looming while we lack medicines and proper equipment," Radhi warned.
Plagued by cholera, malnutrition, diphtheria and now swine flu, the Arab country is unable to cope with the most deadly epidemics as its four years of civil war has almost destroyed its healthcare system.
Hasan al-Noni, a driver and resident of Wisab district of Dhamar Province, 70 km south of Sanaa, said the H1N1 flu has broken out in his district.
"I transported 10 cases infected with swine flu from the district to the hospital in Sanaa over the past three days to receive treatment, three still receiving treatment while the rest had died, mostly women and children," he told Xinhua at the hospital.
The World Health Organization also attributes the rapid spread of epidemics in Yemen to the collapse of the health system, saying "only 50 percent of all health facilities are partially or fully functioning."
Yousif al-Hadri, spokesman of Houthi-controlled Health Ministry, said the ministry has recorded 747 confirmed H1N1 cases, including 154 deaths since early 2018.
"The health system has collapsed as the H1N1 epidemic broke out in the beginning of last year and continued to spread across 2019," al-Hadri told Xinhua in an interview.
He urged international humanitarian agencies to provide aid and medical equipment that would help contain the outbreak.
According to the UN aid agencies, the cholera has infected 1.2 million Yemenis, 30 percent of whom are children, and killed 2,515, while diphtheria infections have increased to 2,572 cases, including 1,491 children.
The aid agencies said more than 12 million Yemenis are suffering from malnutrition and on the brink of famine.
The United Nations has been pushing for the implementation of a peace deal reached in Stockholm between the Yemeni rival parties in December last year, which included the re-opening of Sanaa airport for commercial and civil flights.
The war pits the Yemeni internationally recognized government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, against the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi rebels who forced the government and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile after they seized control over much of the country's north, including the capital Sanaa.
The war has killed over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, displaced 3 million others, triggering what the UN calls the world's biggest humanitarian, health and economic crisis.