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Yemen Faces Continued Threat of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Under-immunization and Vaccine Hesitancy Fuel Outbreaks

Cover photo: A Yemeni child receiving health care. Image source: World Health Organization


  • Many Yemeni children lack complete vaccinations, leaving them susceptible to preventable diseases.

  • Limited functionality of health facilities and water access hinders outbreak control efforts.

  • Fear and mistrust surrounding vaccines create resistance to vital immunizations.


Wastewater testing reveals the ongoing presence of poliovirus in Yemeni communities, highlighting the country's vulnerability to outbreaks of preventable diseases. This vulnerability stems from chronic under-immunization, with a quarter of children lacking complete vaccinations and nearly 17% having never received even a single dose. This lack of immunity, coupled with a fragile healthcare system and misinformation around vaccines, is creating a perfect storm for continued outbreaks.

The recent measles and rubella outbreak that infected over 49,000 people in 2023 serves as a stark reminder of the consequences. Efforts to control such outbreaks are hampered by a lack of functional health facilities – only half are currently operational. Limited water availability further complicates hygiene and sanitation measures.

Perhaps the most concerning challenge is the growing vaccine hesitancy fueled by disinformation campaigns. Fear and mistrust prevent parents from protecting their children with essential vaccinations. Additionally, outbreak response campaigns face delays in certain governorates, leaving vulnerable children exposed. Even in areas with ongoing vaccination efforts, reaching all children remains a challenge.

These combined factors paint a grim picture for Yemeni children. The continued presence of polio and the threat of other preventable illnesses leave them at risk of paralysis, serious illness, and even death.

Urgent action is needed. Strengthening the healthcare system, ensuring wider access to clean water, and combating vaccine misinformation are crucial steps. Prioritizing vaccination campaigns across all governorates and reaching every child, especially in areas with resistance, is paramount. Only through a comprehensive approach can Yemen break the cycle of vaccine-preventable diseases and safeguard the health of its future generation.


@unicefyemen @WHO @UNICEF


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