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Yemen's health care system at risk of collapse

Yemen risks an imminent collapse of its health care system, according to the WHO. The UN health agency has estimated the latest death toll from fighting in Yemen at 944.

Yemen's health services were on the brink of collapse with life-saving medicines and key medical supplies running out, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday. "Power cuts and fuel shortages also threaten to disrupt the vaccine cold chain, leaving millions of children below the age of five unvaccinated," the WHO declared in a statement.

"This increases the risk of communicable diseases such as measles, which is prevalent in Yemen, as well as polio, which has been eliminated but is now at risk of reappearing," the statement added.

According to the WHO, the number of patients able to access health facilities had decreased dramatically since the escalation of hostilities in Yemen. "The major hospitals will soon be completely unable to provide humanitarian and emergency services or to perform operations and provide intensive care to needy patients," the WHO quoted the country's health ministry as saying, adding that there was a lack of medicines for kidney dialysis, cardiac and cancer treatment.

USA sending two warships to waters off Yemen

The impoverished country on the Arab peninsula was plunged into chaos last year when the Shiite Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa.

In late march, a coalition of Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the rebels after the Houthis had forced Yemeni president Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee the country. Saudi Arabia accuses its regional rival, Shiite Iran, of supporting the Houthi rebels.

The United States announced that it was sending two warships to waters off Yemen. The New York Times quoted US government officials as saying that the move was a warning to Iran as well as a signal of support to Saudi Arabia.

das/rc (AFP, dpa)

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