UNICEF mobile clinics provide lifesaving health services to vulnerable displaced communities

UNICEF, in cooperation with IMDAD fund has established these mobile clinics to reach children in hard-to-reach areas and IDP collective centers in southern Yemen

Ali Qasim
Nabila Idan, 36, with her 1-year-old son, Bashar Taher, who suffers from malnutrition
UNICEF/2021/Yemen/Mahmoud AlFalastini
27 January 2021

Displaced people in Yemen live in miserable conditions as the conflict continues relentlessly in the country. Millions of children in Yemen have been displaced since the conflict escalated in March 2015. They miss their homes, their schools and their normal lives. With the scale of this human crisis, their suffering has become immeasurable amidst a brutal and bloody armed conflict.

A Yemeni malnourished child in AlSha'ab IDP center
UNICEF/2021/Yemen/Mahmoud AlFalastini
A Yemeni malnourished child in AlSha'ab IDP center

The city of Aden hosts several Internally Displaced Persons  (IDP) centers due to the constant flow of internally displaced people coming in, in particular from Hodeida and the western coast, seeking safety, food and shelter.

One of these collective centers is Al-Sha'ab IDP center which  was established in 2017 and hosts around 200 households (with around 185 children under 5 years and around 70 Pregnant and lactating women ). Most of them have witnessed the horror caused by the tragic events that have resulted in their most basic rights being denied, including the right to routine health care services and treatment.

 The families living in Al-Sha’ab collective center in the suburbs of Aden have no access to basic services and depend solely on humanitarian aid. They are forced to travel long distances to get adequate services in hospitals and health centers in the city. As a consequence, people in these collective centers are prone to several diseases and many children suffer from malnutrition.

Aisha Saleh, 25, settled in AlSha’ab collective center two years ago with her 6-month-old son, Ayedh Ahmed. He had been suffering from frequent diarrhea episodes for a while, which caused him to lose a lot of weight. Aisha did not know what to do and where to go, as her husband had lost his job and they were struggling to find something to eat. "I was about to lose my son because he was severely malnourished and the diarrhoea further worsened his health condition.", she says. “I was feeling very sad every day to see my son looking very thin and not gaining any weight  and, at some stage, I lost hope that he would survive. Then, a miracle happened when UNICEF mobile clinic team came to our center and began to treat my child on a regular basis until he begun to gain weight again and survived,” Aisha added.

A UNICEF mobile clinic team on their way to an IDP center to provide integrated health and nutrition services for displaced communities.
UNICEF/2021/Yemen/Mahmoud AlFalastini
A UNICEF mobile clinic team on their way to an IDP center to provide integrated health and nutrition services for displaced communities.

UNICEF, in cooperation with IMDAD fund (supported by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and UAE) and the Yemeni health authorities, has established these mobile clinics to reach children in hard-to-reach areas and IDP collective centers in southern Yemen. These clinics act as a lifeline and a first aid line for the people and displaced communities scattered in vast and remote areas.

Since 2018, UNICEF has deployed around 32 Mobile teams in eight different southern governorates to provide integrated services, and they achieved to treat around 7012 malnourished children in the last year 2020.

Upon the arrival of the mobile clinics to the targeted collective centers, normally at 9:00 am, displaced people stand in queues waiting for their turn to get examined and treated.

"The mobile clinics provide medical examination, Integrated management of childhood illness,  Management of sever and Moderate acute malnutrition , reproductive health services and vaccination for children and women in reproductive age, in addition to infant and young child feeding counseling services," says Dr. Rana Ali Ibrahim Al-Surouri, who works as a supervisor of the mobile clinic (A) in Al-Sha`ab collective center.

She reports that within a period of three years the clinic has visited several IDP collective centers and provided patients with emergency lifesaving health and nutrition services thanks to UNICEF’s support, in cooperation with its partners.

The mobile clinic team providing healthcare services to the residents of A- Sha'ab collective center, which hosts 200 households
UNICEF/2021/Yemen/Mahmoud AlFalastini
The mobile clinic team providing healthcare services to the residents of A- Sha'ab collective center, which hosts 200 households

The UNICEF-supported mobile clinic team includes a physician and specialist in integrative care, an immunization specialist, and reproductive health and nutrition health workers. These mobile teams play a critical role in the life of displaced communities as they allow them to access basic and vital healthcare and have a chance to regain their dignity and rebuild their lives.

Shadia Mohammed, a 35-year-old mother, has been living in AlSha’b collective center for around 4 years now. Shadia recalls the suffering of her two-year-old daughter, Sabah Riadh Abdurrahman, who suffered from constant diarrhea and fever.

“I wasn’t able to access any hospital or to seek medical assistance as we are poor and this conflict has caused us years of poverty and homelessness,” Shadia says. “The arrival of the mobile clinic team to the collective center has delighted me and put an end to my worries about my daughter's life. I immediately took Sabah to the doctor, who examined her and provided her with the proper treatment and medicine, free of charge," Shadia notes.

 She proceeds to express her gratefulness to the mobile clinic that has brought a glimpse of hope to her life that was full of despair. "The presence of the mobile clinic is very vital for displaced people like us," Shadia adds.

Manal Awad, a member of a mobile clinic team in Al-Sha'ab camp dispensing nutrition supplies to a mother of malnourished child.
UNICEF/2021/Yemen/Mahmoud AlFalastini
Manal Awad, a member of a mobile clinic team in Al-Sha'ab camp dispensing nutrition supplies to a mother of malnourished child.

As part of its commitment to reduce maternal and child mortality among the most vulnerable, underserved and highest-risk communities, UNICEF is committed to continue to run these mobile clinics which aim to increase access to integrated health and nutrition services.