Reaching Yemenis in Need: Essential Healthcare Services for Rural Communities

The EHNP project aims to strengthen the deteriorated health system in Yemen to provide vulnerable children and their families with essential primary health services.

Elizabeth Doyle
Ali Sa’ad Jumaan, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
22 April 2021

“There is only one healthcare facility in our entire region, and – for many years – a single doctor was responsible for running it and treating all of the patients. I hope that our facility will be able to provide more services in the future, particularly for pregnant women. They have to travel to the capital, Hadibu, Socotra governorate, for urgent care. And some of them die along the way.” Ali Sa’ad Jumaan – Citizen.

Located 85 kilometers from the capital, the district of Nawjed contains clusters of small, remote villages that have a combined population of 18,000. Since residents rely heavily on fishing and precarious work, their lives have always been difficult – even before mass salary cuts, inflation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bedlihi, which is home to the major healthcare center, is considered the second most densely populated region after Hadibo, and contains 15 tribes (each of which consist of 100 to 300 people). Yet, the healthcare facility lacked emergency services, obstetrics and gynecology, laboratories, and child nutrition services, in addition to suffering from severe staffing shortages that interfered with preventative care and routine diagnoses.

Nawjed Health Facility, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Nawjed Health Facility, Nawjed District, Socotra Island

The most common disease in the region used to be malaria, but it has been eradicated and replaced by diarrhea, dengue fever, typhoid, and acute malnutrition.

Yemen Emergency Health and Nutrition Project (EHNP)

Thanks to the partnership between the World Bank, UNICEF, Ministry of Public Health and Population, and Governorates Health Offices, the Yemen Emergency Health and Nutrition Project (EHNP) is now providing basic health, essential nutrition, and water and sanitation services to remote areas of Yemen.

Nawjed Health Facility has been supported with furniture and medical equipment, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Nawjed Health Facility has been supported with furniture and medical equipment, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
Nawjed Health Facility has been supported with furniture and medical equipment, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Nawjed Health Facility has been supported with furniture and medical equipment, Nawjed District, Socotra Island

Under the EHNP, UNICEF is supporting service delivery at the primary healthcare level, including: child care; nutrition; general services and trauma care; the treatment of common, communicable diseases; basic laboratory services; reproductive, maternal, and newborn health; mental health and psychosocial supports; and environmental health services.

Recently, Nawjed’s healthcare facility has been delivering vaccinations to children and pregnant women, providing nutrition services, and sending ambulances to transport sick, pregnant women and elderly residents to the facility. The obstetric emergency department now sees at least 20 cases per day and has become more effective.

Medical care has been being provided to Nawjed citizens, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Medical care has been being provided to Nawjed citizens, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
Medical care has been being provided to Nawjed citizens, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Medical care has been being provided to Nawjed citizens, Nawjed District, Socotra Island

Dr. Wedad Salem Naser Salmeen, a pediatrician who has been working in the facility for the past year, appreciates the fact that they now have refrigerators to store vaccines and staff members are receiving monthly salaries, which gives them an incentive to continue their efforts. Still, the clinic faces routine power outages, lacks an appropriate generator, sees regular drug shortages, and is far removed from the resources of the capital.

“Since the area is remote and it is challenging to access transportation, the villagers choose specific days to arrive at our facility in one car. On Sundays and Tuesdays, we are often working at full capacity and receive between 40 and 50 cases,” Dr. Salmeen explains.

Dr. Wedad Salem Naser Salmeen, a pediatrician, Nawjed District, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Dr. Wedad Salem Naser Salmeen, a pediatrician, Nawjed District, Socotra Island

Qathib Health Facility

Similar to the Nawjed district, the EHNP has enabled the Qathib health facility to offer free services to pregnant women, children, and patients with routine healthcare needs, in addition to nutrition, reproductive health, and immunization services.

Community outreach activities take place every Wednesday, with teams of specialists canvassing the region – including an immunization specialist, reproductive health specialist, child health specialist, and dietician.

Qathib Health Facility, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Qathib Health Facility, Socotra Island
Qathib Health Facility, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Qathib Health Facility, Socotra Island
Dr. Fatima Saeed Amar Salem, a health guide in the reproductive health department, Socotra Island
UNICEF/YEMEN/2021/Ibrahim Yousef
Dr. Fatima Saeed Amar Salem, a health guide in the reproductive health department, Socotra Island

“The facility still does not have a general practitioner or an obstetrics department, so women who require a caesarean surgery are sent to Hadibo or to the nearest health facility. The facility also lacks a laboratory specialist and appropriate instruments. When we receive support, we do wonderful outreach activities to deliver medical services to people who live in remote areas and villages”.

says Dr. Fatima Saeed Amar Salem, a health guide in the reproductive health department.

Since the beginning of the Emergency Health and Nutrition Project in the middle of 2017, the project is continuing to support around 1,800 health facilities with the above-mentioned health services all across the country. The project aims to strengthen the deteriorated health system in Yemen to provide vulnerable children and their families with essential primary health services.