Our work overseas

Inside one of Yemen's few operational hospitals

Only half of Yemen's health centres are functional. We went inside one of the main hospitals in Sana'a.

Yemen's healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Only half of all health centres are functional including one named 22 May Hospital.

All eighteen months of little Mazen's life have been a struggle. Around him in his home town of Sana’a, a humanitarian crisis continues to unfold and the health system is on the brink of collapse.

After he stopped breastfeeding, Mazen’s health began to deteriorate. His frightened mother took him to Al-Amal hospital in Hodeidah. But given he was so acutely malnourished, and the hospital not adequately equipped, he was referred for more specialised care in Sana’a.

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His declining health and lack of nutrition also led to skin irritation and damage to his eye. It has gotten so bad that Mazen can no longer see from one of his eyes.

But now his nutritional status has improved thanks to a course of Plumpy'Nut. Plumpy'Nut has been called a miracle product. The high-energy peanut paste is enriched with vitamins and minerals, containing sugar, vegetable oil and skimmed milk powder.

As for his eye problems, there is hope. Soon he will soon have surgery to help save his eye.

But Mazen is actually one of the lucky ones.

Yemen has a healthcare system on the brink of collapse. Relentless war has devastated essential infrastructure and left only half of all health facilities functional. Meanwhile families battle with a soaring food crisis, deadly outbreaks of cholera and the increasing spread of Covid-19.

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There are not enough healthcare workers throughout the war torn country, and those who remain haven't received salaries in over three years. UNICEF is financially supporting healthcare workers, so they can continue to support children and their own families.

UNICEF is keeping the health system from collapsing by mobilising teams to bring care to families, antenatal care, vaccines, screening and treatment for malnourished children.

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May 22 Hospital is a lifeline to families who fight every day to survive. 

Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Ali Sufiyan is a nutrition specialist at the hospital. He has become used to seeing children like Mazen come through the doors. They do everything they can to provide children with lifesaving assistance and their families with the financial support they need to access care. “We receive children and their mothers and give them cash aids (so they can travel to the hospital,)” he says.

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Even seeing a doctor in Yemen can prove challenging. Diala’a is only six months old and suffers from malnutrition and skin diseases. 22 May Hospital is the third health centre she's been to over the last few weeks.

Initially her mother, Samah, took her to a governmental hospital after Diala'a experienced severe vomiting and dysentery. But the hospital wasn't equipped to give her an accurate diagnosis, let alone help her. Next she was taken to C+ hospital, located in Shibam district. Soon she was transported to 22 May Hospital to get specialised treatment. Already she has started to recover and the rash from her skin allergy has started to disappear.

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Moheb, who is seven months old, also came to May 22 Hospital suffering from acute malnutrition. But now, after a weeks long course of Plumpy'Nut, he has totally recovered.

Almost every Yemeni child – a staggering 12 million, is in need of humanitarian aid. If we don’t help Yemen’s children survive, then who will?

In 2019, we were able to provide treatment for 331,000 children (aged 6 to 59 months) affected by severe acute malnutrition. We were also able to support 4,400,000 malnourished children with essential micronutrient interventions, including vitamin A. This was all thanks to generous donors.

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The need is great, but UNICEF will never give up on children. Please stand with us and help save lives.

Donate now to UNICEF’s Yemen Emergency Appeal and rush vital supplies to where they’re needed most.