Unemployment, health failures in Yemen criticized [Archives:2006/964/Reportage]

July 17 2006

By: Yemen Times Staff
The Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights (YOHR) has criticized the state's policy of distributing public employments, a fact supported by the ever-increasing number of unemployed citizens.

According to official figures, the current workforce is estimated at 4,090,680 employees, 76.3 percent male and 23.7 percent female. There are 3,621,679 laborers, which comprises 88.5 percent of the total workforce.

Such estimations were made in 1999 and no other estimations have been made as yet, a matter which reflects the lack of attention to dealing with data and human resources. In light of this, a realistic estimation of the current workforce is not reflected, as the mentioned surveys were conducted at intervals, thus excluding a great deal of people of the working age.

With the estimations of 7,520,000 people in work and 2,500,000 without jobs, unemployment is equivalent to 35 percent of the total workforce. Official figures, however, estimate unemployment at 15 percent of the total workforce. This estimation seems “bias and misleading.”

The report clarified that 150,000 graduates of universities and technical/ vocational institutions have been registered with the Ministry of Civil Service in the hope of being awarded a post. This is a cumulative figure of more than eight years, ending in the year 2005. However that number doesn't include all graduates, for some prefer not to register at the Ministry of Civil Service, but with the private sector instead.

Over the past five years, universities graduated some 90,000 students, with an estimation of 19,000 graduates per year. In addition to this, private universities, foreign universities and technical/ vocational institutions contribute to the number of graduates. Yet, however large the number of graduates, the state receives only eight percent of those who apply at the Ministry of Civil Service each year. 90 percent of graduates remain without jobs in the institutions of the state and the capacity of jobs in the private sector has reduced due to inactive economic activities, said the report.

“Yemen suffers from an unemployment crisis that affects graduates with higher education. Of the reasons for the escalation of unemployment are structural factors that lie in ailing the structure of the economy; besides other factors proven in the decline of the government investment spending on development projects, as well as the high population growth rate and education outputs,” stated the report.

Health rights

In its annual report, the Yemeni anti-leprosy program in Taiz mentioned that 7982 cases of absolute leprosy were discovered in 2005 and 415 new cases of leprosy in 2004. The rate of the spread of leprosy in Yemen, the report added, reached 100 cases out of 100,000 people.

The report quoted Hashem Al-Zain, representative of the World Health Organization, WHO, in Yemen, as saying that there were 411 cases of probable polio infection up to May 2005. Al-Zain added that 300,000 children in Hudeida had not been vaccinated against polio. Yemen is one of six countries where vaccination against polio is still under the required level. Cases of polio registered in Yemen reached 1533, which is half the cases registered worldwide, said Lee Jong-Wook, WHO Director-General.

As for maternal mortality, the report stated that eight birth-related deaths occur per day and that out of every 50 women, one dies as a result of pregnancy and birth complications.

The report said that according to the estimations of the Ministry of Health, 15,000 Yemenis get infected by cancer per year, WHO's estimations push that figure up to 20,000. Every year, of this figure, 66 percent die, while 25-30 percent survive for more than 10-15 years.

Moreover, the report mentioned a variety of factors behind the defects in health services, some of which are stated below.

– Incompetent use of available resources: The health sector receives around four percent of the public expenditure. The individual's portion of the total Ministry of Health's budget is only $4.30 per year. The health reform document of 1998 indicated that 50 percent of health finance had been wasted by corruption, lack of competence and mal-administration.

– deficiency of health and environmental legislations: The efforts made by the government to improve health care failed to encourage the citizens to enjoy their rights to good health, due to ever-spreading epidemics, corruption, governmental incompetence, administrative incompetence, lack of policy to fight hazards such as the threatening spread of dangerous diseases and the counterfeiting and smuggling of medicines.

Globally, Yemen is classified among the ten countries suffering from water shortages, having only 2.5 billion cubic meters of water resources.

The individual's portion of water resources decreased from 229 cubic meters in 1988 to 116 cubic meters in 2005. This figure is expected to reach 72 cubic meters in 2025.

“Although the government has been aware of this disaster-like truth since the 1980s, it has not done anything noticeable to handle the reasons behind the aggravation of this problem since its beginning,” said the report.

Arbitrary digging has had bad effects in this regard. There are 55,000 water wells and more than 400 diggers in the country; and only less than half the population can get clean drinking water.