From a shack to a health unit

Bringing health and nutrition to a mountain village in Yemen

Following nearly a decade of conflict in Yemen, the country has experienced a partial collapse of an already fragile public infrastructure, leaving approximately 66 percent of the population in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Yemen’s healthcare system has deteriorated, especially in rural areas of the country. Only half of the health facilities in Yemen are fully or partially functioning, and many of these still lack necessities such as fuel, water, essential medical supplies, and qualified healthcare workers.

The district of Al Azariq in Al Dhale’e Governorate is one the most affected areas in the South of Yemen. Every day can feel like a fight for survival for people in need of essential health and nutrition services in rural areas like this. People live in hard-to-reach towns, where the only routes to the villages are rugged roads.

The rugged roads leading to one of Yemen’s remote communities in need

The main road in the district of Al Azariq, between the mountains and valleys, leads to the village of Gabal Awas. Medair built a health unit here, providing essential health and nutrition services to communities in the area. This was made possible with funding from DRA through Dorcas.

“We didn’t have anything in terms of health services”, says one of the community leaders in the Village of Gabal Awas. “If someone was sick or needed medication, they needed to pay for their travel to the city, and the road here is very dangerous. It would take around three hours to drive just 40 kilometers, so many people lost their lives while rushing to health facilities in the city.”

Man walks to a remote and hard to reach hospital with his small child.

We had to take a long, tiring journey to the city to find a good hospital when my family members needed care. The worst part was having to walk for a long way to reach the nearest transportation. Now, just a few steps from our house, we have a health unit”, says Ali, father of three children and a teacher in the village.

In 2023, Medair built a health unit in the village of Gabal Awas, providing essential health and nutrition services to the community along with medical supplies and medicines. The health unit provides primary healthcare services to children, including vaccinations and the diagnosis of and treatment of diseases and malnutrition

71-year-old Salma receives medication in the pharmacy of Gabal Awas Health Unit. The pharmacist gives her instructions on how to safely use the medication.

“I can see how the health of children in the area has improved, especially cases of malnutrition. Before the intervention of Medair, many children died due to acute malnutrition. Family habits and traditions, and inadequate finances, negatively impacted their nutrition practices. Since Medair introduced its awareness campaigns, mothers now know how to properly feed their babies. The community’s attitude towards vaccinations has also changed. Before Medair’s intervention, people refused to have their children vaccinated due to false information. It’s a huge success that parents now have information on how to plan and support their families”, says Nawal, Medair Assistant Doctor in Gabal Awas Health Unit.

a young child receives healthcare support from Medair’s medical team.

“We are really thankful that we now have a health unit in our own village. As an assistance doctor working with women and children, seeing them get a new start and take a step towards a new future makes me feel optimistic that the conflict will end and the future will be a better place”, says Doctor Nawal, Medair assistant doctor in Gabal Awas Health Unit.

Ayad Saleh, Medair WASH AssistanAyad Saleh, Medair WASH Assistant, standing near Gabal Awas Health Unit. Services include medical consultations, reproductive health services, medication, immunizations, and child health care t, standing near Gabal Awas Health Unit. Services include medical consultations, reproductive health services, medication, immunisations, and child health care.

“I was born and raised in a similar environment to Gabal Awas Village, where we faced the same issues. We didn’t have a health unit near us, and we lost many people who were in dire need of health services. So, when I heard about this project, I really invested my time and energy to make sure it was a success for the community. It feels great that now nobody has to travel to the city to buy medicines or to get a medical check. People with emergency health conditions no longer die unnecessarily because of the distance to their nearest health facility. I feel very happy to have had the chance to serve my own people in a way that will have long-lasting impact”, says Ayad Saleh, Medair WASH Assistant.

The shack that stood where Gabal Awas Health Unit is today. This is where the community cared for their sick before Medair and Dorcas intervention.

“Medair’s support has been vital for communities in this area. With their help, we now have a full healthcare team as well as volunteers, working out of a proper health unit. We would love to expand even more’ because people throughout the valley come to us for medical care since they cannot afford private health care, and we need extra support. The conflict in Yemen and the economic situation of the district has increased the demand on us. This is why I hope your support never ends”, says Dr Rajab Saleh, Manager of Gabal Awas Health Unit

Group photo of the medical team at Gabal Awas Health Unit, with some community leaders, Medair WASH Assistant Ayad, and some beneficiaries.


Medair services in Yemen are funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Yemen Humanitarian Fund – Yemen OCHA, World Vision, the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA / USAID), and .and private donors. 

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.