September 28, 2023
International Safe Abortion Day: Progress in Mexico, setbacks in the USA
The violence in Yemen has intensified since a coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, began bombing several regions (notably Sana’a and Aden), resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians. The conflict has destroyed the country’s health infrastructure including health centers and hospitals.
In 2007, Doctors of the World began its operation in Yemen to support the populations affected by the ongoing conflict. Our aim was to provide primary healthcare to those in need, including curative consultations, mental and psychosocial support, and sexual and reproductive healthcare. We accomplished this by providing free consultations, medication and treatment, particularly for the most vulnerable groups: women and children. By working with regional ministries of health and local organizations, we were able to inform the civilian populations about our services. In 2022, we supported 20 public health facilities in 6 governorates (Sana’a, Amanat, Lahj, Abyan, Aden, Marib).
As our mission is to bolster primary healthcare in the country, we have focused our efforts in capacity-building and rehabilitation of healthcare infrastructure, especially when it comes to infectious disease. This action is reflected in the supply of drugs, training, reinforcement of prevention messages, the mobilization of personnel protection kits, technical support for caregivers from the Ministry of Health and the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure.
Due to the ongoing conflict, 17 million Yemenis – almost 60% of the population – are facing food insecurity due to an air and sea blockade. In 2017, the UN estimated that 7 million people were on the brink of famine. As a result, our teams are providing malnutrition screening and treatment for children in some of the worst affected areas in the south and west of the country.
Doctors of the World has also worked to bolster protection and provide support to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). We have a two pronged approach: sensitized care and prevention strategies. Healthcare staff receive training on how to provide quality, sensitive care that includes mental health support for survivors of GBV. Prevention takes place at a community level. Doctors of the World works with identified community volunteers to raise awareness of GBV as well as other health issues like COVID-19 or mental health. These sessions empower the community to identify health problems and create community awareness on health issues as well as develop solutions that may mitigate risks like GBV or cholera.