Blood bank in Yemeni capital on the verge of shutdown

Director of Yemen's national blood bank warns the centre could shut down within one week due to lack of support.

    Yemen's national blood bank faces a complete shutdown within a week after a medical aid charity ended its two-year support, the facility's director said on Thursday, warning that the closure could exacerbate the existing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.

    Doctors Without Borders, known by the French acronym MSF, gave its last donation to the blood bank in June after it signed an agreement with UN World Health Organization, handing over the support to the UN agency.

    "Supplies are running out," Ayman al-Shihari, the general director of the National Blood Transfusion Centre, told The Associated Press over the phone from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.

    The MSF supplies cover only two months.

    Al-Shihari added that the facility has yet to receive any aid from the WHO.

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

    Adnan al-Hakimi, who works at the blood bank, said that the centre is running low on all of its resources, including cannula solutions, blood bags, and other medical supplies.

    "We are appealing to civil society organisations, businessmen, and all those doing charity work, to save the lives of these patients and the wounded, so the centre does not go out of business," he told Al Jazeera.

    Yemen is facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The two-year war has crippled the country's health system, depleted access to safe drinking water and put millions on the brink of famine.

    Al-Shihari said that the bank's closure could lead to a "humanitarian catastrophe", noting that the facility receives up to 3,000 cases monthly, including patients with cancer, thalassaemia, kidney failure and those wounded in the war.

    Thalassemia is a hereditary form of anaemia that requires regular transfusions.

    A Saudi-led coalition embarked on a campaign in March 2015 in Yemen with the aim of dislodging Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels who control the capital and much of the north and restoring to power the internationally-recognized government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    The stalemated war has killed at least 10,000 people and has led to extensive civilian suffering with 17 million going hungry and nearly 80 percent of Yemeni children in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN figures.

    Employees register bags of blood at a blood transfusion centre in Sanaa [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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