FCDF Advocates "The Psychological and Economic Effects of Disasters and Epidemics in Yemen"


Family Counseling and Development Foundation held an advocacy meeting today Monday 12th of October in Sana'a on "The Psychological and Economic Effects of Disasters and Epidemics in Yemen"

At the meeting, which brought together a number of participants from NGOs online through the (Zoom meeting) application. Dr. Bilqis Mohammed Jubari, Chairwoman of FCDF, said in her speech at the opening of the meeting that Yemen has gone through many crises such as wars and natural disasters, which led to 82% of the population going below the poverty line; besides, it has had a significant impact on women and youth as well as on the process of social growth. She added GDP has fallen by 50% from 2014, and the material losses of this war so far are estimated to be about $100 billion, and the bulk of economic activities in the public and private sectors have been halted, and oil and gas exports have largely stopped, which is the main source of foreign exchange and state budget.

All of these implications would have a major impact on the mental health of individuals, as global studies have shown that in crisis countries, one in five people need psychological help, and that goes with FCDF's 2017 study.

She pointed out that the size of the gap in mental health services is staggering, as the number of psychiatrists in Yemen does not exceed the 46 psychiatrists, which means that there will be one psychiatrist for every 600,000 people, especially since 70% of Yemenis live in the countryside and they face a lack of health services.

The painful thing was that the human tragedy in Yemen is almost a forgotten issue, she said.

In the face of these disasters, the United Nations agencies and many countries have declared, for more than once, that Yemen today is the largest humanitarian disaster on earth and is a disgrace and a black spot on the values and humanism advocated by the free world.

The United Nations has launched a distress call to help Yemen's affected community with all these disasters, but the response has been frustrating, with funding only $708 million out of $3.4 billion for 2020, meaning that the funding gap was 78%, forcing the UN to close about 12 of the 38 programs by June and 20 other programs that are likely to close or reduce by the end of this year.

Dr. Jubari also noted that, with the support of the Dutch Government over the past six years and more recently with the support of the UNFPA for the past two years, FCDF has been able to provide specialized mental health services to people who need it most, providing treatment and psychiatry services to more than 18,000 cases, protecting a large number of individuals from suicide, and providing free medicines to 17,000 cases, including 10,000 cases of GBV received psychotropic medication.

At the end of her speech, Dr. Jubbari thanked The Minister of Health and Population, Dr. Taha Al Mutawakil, for paying great attention to mental health programs, which also honored the pioneers of mental health in Yemen on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. She also praised the prominent role played by the director of the National Mental Health Program, Dr. Abdulqoddous Harmal, and for his efforts and continued support for mental health issues.

Dr. Annie Vestjens, MD, HPPF  PhD Thematic Expert Health | SRHR Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Yemen, said that as a result of years of conflict in Yemen, thousands of people have been killed and injured, hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes, millions have lost their jobs and their source of income in life, adding that people and communities have been greatly affected by this conflict and are now living under great pressure in their daily lives.

Dr. Annie noted that, however, psychological support during the early years was not a first priority in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, but it follows top priorities such as basic services such as food and medicine.

She explained that the psychological effects of this war have been highlighted significantly recently. Psychological support helps to promote social stability.

She also added that mental health support is now one of the dutch government's top priorities.

Mr. André, UNFPA mental health and support specialist, said that domestic violence and GBV Survivors programs have been one of the key global goals to end domestic violence since 2016.

He also added that during the conflict in Yemen, incidents of domestic violence had increased significantly, and most of those incidents were not reported.

Mr. Andre clarified that one in three women suffered from psychological disorders, particularly those who had experienced domestic violence.

He said that the UNFPA has updated and developed services for beneficiaries in order to relieve the suffering of them, especially for women in these programs, which have been developed greatly through the modernization of 6 public centers, 6 mental health centers, as well as 18 hotlines to cover most of Yemeni territory, as well as the significant modernization of referral services by 65%, which he said is a great investment to cover all these needs and interventions.

Mr. André pointed out that the need for psychological support during 2017 was estimated at 1 in five people, but now that number has undoubtedly increased significantly, and in any case the presence of 1 in 5 people in need of psychological support means that 5 million people in Yemen need psychological support and this represents the great need for mental health.