A ceremony was held on 26 August 2020 in Cardiff to mark the coming together of Muslim Charity and BCB International Ltd (a manufacturer of life-saving specialist equipment based in Cardiff) which saw 25,000 face masks and 10,000 full-face protective shields being shipped to Yemen to support key medical staff and health professionals in war-torn Yemen as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.
COVID-19 is just the latest challenge for families in Yemen. The danger to the old aged, children and their families is compounded by the general low immunity, high levels of malnutrition among children, a lack of regular access to basic health services and a devastated healthcare system where only half of the facilities are functional due to the ongoing conflict. As per a report by MedGlobal (a Chicago-based charity), 97 medical workers have died of coronavirus, the dead include infectious disease experts, medical directors, midwives and pharmacists.
In this uniquely dire context when one medical professional dies, the effect is exponential and extends to the entire community they would treat. Some of those who have died were senior members of the medical community who not only led their respective fields, but also taught younger generations of doctors and represented decades of institutional knowledge for which there is no substitution. Those who have passed include Dr Yassin Abdul Warith, one of Yemen’s leading epidemiologists; Dr Salem Saleh Muhammad al-Omari, the head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Aden.
In Yemen, there are fewer than 10 health workers for every 10,000 people – less than half of the WHO benchmark for basic health coverage – the effect of the death of every medical professional has an exponential effect. The human toll of one doctor’s death extends to the community they would have treated, who now are left without access to healthcare. About 18% of the country’s 333 districts already have no doctors. Yemen currently has a 27% mortality rate from the disease – more than five times the global average.
The UK Director of Muslim Charity, Maroof Pirzada, commented, “At Muslim Charity, we understand the fear of healthcare professionals and key workers, therefore, we have appealed to the public to support the saving of lives in Yemen during this challenging time in order for them to survive the pandemic. We are thankful to our TEAMMC volunteers, cyclists, runners, donors and supporters and BCB International Ltd for their kind support towards saving lives in Yemen. Muslim Charity is doing its best to support health and key workers in these challenging times.”
Muslim Charity’s Director of Programmes and Policy, Irfan Rajput, whilst explaining the need of the PPE equipment, said, “Muslim Charity will provide the Face Protection Shields to health and key workers for the protection of their lives in Aden and neighbouring districts. We are coordinating with health officials and other non-governmental organisations on the ground for continuous situational analyses.”
The Community Engagement Manager of Muslim Charity, Rashid Ali, said, “The generosity of our donors over the years has been truly lifesaving to thousands of people. With COVID-19, this generosity is more necessary than ever and will allow us to not only respond to the pandemic but also to continue doing our vital work for people affected by the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.”
BCB International Ltd, in the fight against COVID-19, converted one of their factories to produce high strength hand sanitisers. The company supplies its PPE equipment to the NHS and other emergency services.
As their logistics director, Gabriella Howell, explained the company also makes PPE donations to charities: “Charities are a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable in our communities. The impact of COVID-19 has made their role even more crucial. As a company we make regular donations of PPE to organisations in the charity and voluntary sector.
“Only by working together at home and abroad will we see off the threat of the coronavirus. That’s why we have decided to make this donation to the Muslim Charity to support their work in Yemen.
“The lives of the people of Yemen have been blighted by a conflict that has torn their country apart. COVID-19 has further compounded the struggles of their daily lives. The provision and availability of face masks here in the UK and other Western societies are taken for granted. In places like Yemen they are a scarce commodity.
“We are delighted to be making this donation to the Muslim Charity. They carry out incredible work and we are proud to be supporting them.”
The procurement and shipment of the 10,000 full-face protective shields has been funded by Muslim Charity’s generous donors and the 25,000 face masks were generously donated by BCB International Ltd.
Photographs from the handover ceremony