In the Al Dhale’e Governorate, in the southwest of Yemen, every day can be a fight for survival. Almost half of the healthcare facilities in the district are inoperative or run at a reduced capacity. This is because of reduced staffing and a lack of essential medicines and supplies, and urgent action needed. In the remote mountainous areas of Al Dhale’e, people live in particularly hard conditions, travelling long distances to receive healthcare. The downfall of the economy has placed additional pressure on Yemenis.
In response to the situation in Yemen, Medair provides health and nutrition services at the facility and community level, including supplying medicines and medical equipment to 10 health facilities. Eight of the health facilities provide outreach health and nutrition services to support people in remote areas who can’t reach the health facilities.
Each outreach team comprises a doctor, assistant doctor, midwife, and pharmacist, providing primary and emergency health and nutrition services. This includes medical consultations, reproductive health services, medication, immunizations, and child health care. The team also refers patients to nearby facilities that offer enhanced health care.
My name is Karam and I am Medair’s Communication Officer. I joined the outreach team on one of their visits and I would like to share what I experienced.
I met the outreach team as they were preparing for another day of intense work. They drive hours to the rural areas, traversing dangerous, rocky terrain to reach families who would otherwise have no access to health and nutrition services.
Before the team leaves, they ensure that all the equipment, medicines, and medical supplies are ready.
“In my opinion, to understand and solve the problem needs a lot of experience. I come from a remote rural area that lacks basic health and nutrition services. No health centers exist there and people’s financial conditions prevent them from travelling to the nearest areas to access health and nutrition services. That is the reason I give my best when I am at work because my team and I are no strangers to the situation in these remote areas”, says Dr Ridfan the Medical Assistant responsible for conducting outpatient consultations.
During our first stop, we met Riham, with her 14 months old child in her arms. The outreach team set a station up in a house provided by one of the community leaders in the village.
“I don’t know what would have happened to my child if the team didn’t come. Most of the children in the village have malnutrition. We don’t have enough money to buy essential food items, that is why we eat what is available. Variety in food is not an option for us. The situation was different before the conflict started. I used to be a teacher. Because of the conflict, we had to flee our village, which is now as a frontline in the north of Al Dhale’e,” says Riham.
In Al Dhale’e Governorate, severely malnourished children under the five years received treatment from Medair supported services. Between December 2020 and early May 2022, Medair treated over 724 children under the five years old with severe malnutrition.
Travelling off-road through villages, we met another outreach team, where Dr Taha, the general physician, and his team were very busy seeing patients.
“We see about 60 to 80 patients per day for different primary health care services, including screening children for malnutrition, providing antenatal care, postnatal care, family planning services, and health consultations for different age groups. We never leave the site until we make sure that everyone has got the treatment they need and are satisfied”, says Dr Taha.
Midwife Yasmin makes sure that children under five years old receive vaccinations according to the Yemen schedule. With the scarcity of reproductive health services in Yemen, Medair’s outreach teams work alongside midwives and community health workers to promote safe deliveries and provide quality care for women and their babies.
“In the beginning, it was hard for us to give the vaccinations to the babies. Many people didn’t want it, but after a while and through awareness campaigns, people now understand the risks of not having vaccinations. This is a great thing for the community.” says Yasmin, a midwife with Medair.
“I feel really happy. It is a hard task, but it’s worth it because we reduce the effort of the women and children who can’t afford to travel or have medical care near them. It motivates me to continue when I hear people’s prayers for us because we make it easy for people to get treatment”, says Dr Ma’aly, a Senior Health and Nutrition Officer with Medair.
The eight outreach teams give treatment, provide check-ups and examine over 800 people weekly. No two days are the same. On one day, the team meets a patient with a chest infection, while on another day someone comes for a review of their diabetes.
What is the same, though, is the dedication that I see in the outreach team, to give their best and go the extra mile.
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), foundations, municipalities 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.