Our Children Deserve Better Healthcare

A Day at a Maternal and Child Health Centre in Yemen’s Abyan Governorate

Aad Noman & Sabrin Al-Aghbari
A yemeni little girl waiting for treatment at Maternal and Child Health Centre in Zungobar, Abyan
UNICEF Yemen/2019

21 October 2019

Although quite young, Suzan Jamal, is very mature. As a first-time expectant mother, she is fully aware of everything she needs to ensure her baby is delivered safe and naturally. Ms. Jamal regularly visits the Maternal and Child Health Centre in Zungobar in Abyan governorate in south-central Yemen to discuss her obstetric needs in her first trimester of pregnancy. Here she can get vital answers to all her health questions.

Ms. Jamal said, “I had all my first trimester concerns put to rest at the centre.” Moreover, she says, “I got relief from the pain I have recently been experiencing in my back and chest.” With her simple Abyani accent she notes, "I'm very relieved to know that my baby is fine," adding that the "nurses at the centre work with such care and dedication and are kind-hearted and cooperative."

Dr. Saida Yahya, who has been running the centre for 29 years, points out that the joint intervention of UNICEF and the World Bank has improved the quality of the health services all over the governorate. In fact, after rehabilitating and furnishing the centre and providing it with medical devices, health equipment and administrative and technical supplies, as well as a variety of medicines, the centre started receiving many mothers and children from different districts. They came after hearing about the rapid and effective response provided by the centre and the adequate quantities of the necessary medicines.

Patients are waiting for their turns to get the health services in the Maternal and Child Health Centre
UNICEF Yemen/2019
Patients are waiting for their turns to get the health services in the Maternal and Child Health Centre

According to Dr. Saida, the center receives 80-100 patients per month from across the governorate. She also notes that the centre has overcome several obstacles that had prevented it from functioning adequately, especially running the vaccine refrigerator amidst the frequent power outages. With the provision of solar energy, it has become easier to store vaccines safely for longer periods.

The refrigerator was provided by the EHNP to properly store medicine. Dr. Thiqa is taking out vaccines to give children
UNICEF Yemen/2019
The refrigerator was provided by the EHNP to properly store medicine. Dr. Thiqa is taking out vaccines to give children

Dr. Thiqa Saeed, Head of the Immunization Department at the centre, also stresses that the project has brought great benefits. He reflects on its efficient functioning and the quality performance of its medical staff. Dr. Thiqa hopes that with continued support they will be able to further strengthen their service provision.

They have ambitions to expand some of the departments and establish additional rooms, including a drug warehouse and space to provide in-patient care and follow-up for patients with malnutrition, anemia and chronic diseases, which have recently increased across the community.

Health facility staff in a meeting
UNICEF Yemen/2019
Health facility staff in a meeting

The management, and nursing and medical staff of the Maternal and Child Health Centre are looking forward to the center’s success continuing to grow and become a good example for other service providers in the health sector and a source of pride for Abyan governorate.

UNICEF and the World Bank International Development Association through the Emergency Health and Nutrition Project have been working tirelessly to achieve the primary health care development goals to improve services provided to mothers and their children in this centre. This health facility is one of 2,000 health facilities supported by the project in all governorates across Yemen. The interventions strengthen the health systems to deliver adequate healthcare services, especially in remote and war-affected areas. They have a very real impact on the health and well being of families in these communities.