December 6, 2022

Tigray’s largest hospital suspending operations as conflict continues, resources dwindle and doctors collapse from hunger

People receive service from a mobile health and nutrition clinic set up in Freweyni town health centre, north of Mekelle, ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Zerihun Sewunet
People receive service from a mobile health and nutrition clinic set up in Freweyni town health centre, north of Mekelle. -Many health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, and essential supplies looted, inlcluding of the one where the mobile clinic is set up in. Conditions in displacement sites in Tigray where the population is overwhelmingly women and children are extremely difficult and the needs remain huge. Malnutrition is on the increase Children are unable to receive health care because the facilities are non-functional There has been no vaccination since the conflict started in November Water supply systems are damaged, affecting access to safe and clean water Survivors of sexual violence are not receiving much-needed help ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Zerihun Sewunet

The largest hospital in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has suspended its operations due to a shortage of supplies, medicine, and a lock of consistent electricity.

The World Health Organization reported on Wednesday that the situation at the Ayder Referral Hospital is so bad that hospital staff are even collapsing from hunger.

“The Ayder hospital in Mekelle, the region’s only referral hospital, is at risk of shutting down because of lack of fuel to run generators and ambulances. The hospital is running very low on basic supplies like IV fluids and antibiotics, even as hospital staff are reportedly collapsing due to hunger,” the WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing.

“This is a hospital serving a population of six million people, which is responsible for performing thousands of surgeries and deliveries every year. WHO is doing its best to help but the only solution to this inhumane situation, as in Ukraine, is peace,” added Dr. Ghebreyesus.

As millions of people in Tigray require humanitarian assistance, they lack access to many basic services. While conflict rages on, medical facilities have been devastated and the resources of hospitals such as Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekele have been stretched thin.

Recent reports from Mekele indicate that doctors have been treating terminally ill patients with expired medication and paracetamol due to a shortage of resources. While the conflict in Tigray continues, vulnerable civilians are caught up in its devastating consequences.

With medical access deteriorating and a lack of resources, civilians continue to be placed in awful situations due to the ongoing conflict in Tigray. The only way to help restore resources and share humanitarian aid with the region is for the violent conflict to come to a resolution.

In addition, hunger and drought and the war in Ukraine are making things even worse, the WHO chief adde.

He said, “The invasion of Ukraine has badly disrupted food supplies, exacerbating the risk of famine around the world. This is compounded by the impact of climate change and extreme weather. The Horn of Africa is now experiencing one of its worst droughts in recent history. There is a high risk of famine and malnutrition, severely affecting an estimated 15-20 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Populations in Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan are also affected.

“Tens of thousands of families are being forced to leave their homes in search of food, water and pasture. Hunger and under-nutrition greatly increase health risks, especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women, newborns, small children, older people and those living with noncommunicable diseases and disabilities.

“Mass displacement and a lack of access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation, means the risk of outbreaks is very real. This is especially worrying in an already under-immunised population with little access to health services.

“Food is not the only shortage. In Tigray, Ethiopia, blockades have caused a shortage of fuel that is crippling the health system. More than six million people remain under siege by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces after more than 18 months. Although some food is being delivered, it’s not enough and basic services remain unavailable, and the region is sealed off from the rest of the world.”

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