Healthcare in Yemen’s Hard-to-Reach Areas: Supporting Hospitals in Taiz, Al Hudaydah, and Hadramaut

MedGlobal has worked in Yemen since 2017, providing health services and supporting 14 hospitals across 7 governorates. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, MedGlobal has scaled up its work in Yemen by providing PPE and critical medical equipment to health facilities responding to the COVID-19 crisis. During August and September, MedGlobal’s Program Manager for Yemen, Asma’a Dunia, traveled across the country to deliver medical assistance and coordinated with 7 health facilities in the Hadramaut, Taiz, and Al Hudaydah governorates. This medical support would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of Asma’a, and the entire MedGlobal team is grateful for her leadership. Below are the details of that healthcare support. 

Health services are more critical than ever in Yemen, after more than 5 years of conflict has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Around 80% of Yemen’s population is in need of humanitarian aid, and less than half of all health facilities are fully functioning. At the same time that COVID-19 and other health crises are escalating, the UN has been forced to cut critical aid to 300 health centers across Yemen because of a lack of funding.

Map of MedGlobal projects in Yemen

Taiz Hospitals

“There was a dire need in this area. Many people had not received health support before.” 

– Asma’a Dunia, MedGlobal’s Yemen Program Manager

The Taiz governorate is on the frontlines of the armed conflict in Yemen. There are estimates that over 270,000 people are displaced in Taiz from the conflict. In August, MedGlobal identified immense medical needs in the area, as health facilities in the Al Mafa’afer district and Al Sheikh Al Shamayateen district had not previously received any support and were in dire need of assistance. MedGlobal is now working towards sustained support for the Al Nasham Rural Hospital in Al Mafa’afer district and Al Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Al Shamayateen district. 

Al Mokha Isolation Unit

“MedGlobal provided 19 oxygen cylinders, which is really lifesaving for that isolation unit and the hospital itself.”

– Asma’a Dunia, MedGlobal’s Yemen Program Manager

The Al Mokha district on Yemen’s western coast has also become a core focus of MedGlobal’s work in Taiz governorate. The area is near the frontlines of fighting and thousands of people living there are entirely unable to access healthcare. Prior to MedGlobal’s involvement, there were no functioning hospitals screening for COVID-19. All suspected and confirmed cases were referred to Aden or Taiz city, a journey of 4 to 5 hours, forcing many infected people to remain at home as their health deteriorated. As part of MedGlobal’s response, we contributed to establishing a COVID-19 isolation unit in Al Mokha by providing medical equipment and supplies, including ICU and lab equipment, to allow the unit to start receiving critical cases. 

Hadramaut Hospitals

“In Marib governorate, the site of intense fighting, clashes at two different checkpoints delayed MedGlobal’s medical delivery to Hadramaut by two days.”

In Yemen’s largest governorate, Hadramaut, MedGlobal supports Al Hayah Hospital in Al Qaten district and Ghayel Bawazeer Hospital in Ghayel Bawazeer district. Traveling to the facilities from Aden, the current capital of the Yemeni government, is a dangerous journey of nearly 1,000 kilometers through heavily contested areas. In Marib governorate, the site of intense fighting, clashes at two different checkpoints delayed MedGlobal’s medical delivery by two days.

According to local medical staff, when the pandemic started, health workers lacked the protection needed and many were infected while providing treatment in health centers. The supplies MedGlobal provided for local hospitals in Hadramaut, such as the PPE, disinfectant, and medical equipment, is essential for protecting health workers and treating COVID-19 patients. 

Al Hudaydah 

Al Hudaydah governorate extends along Yemen’s western coast, and hosts an increasing number of displaced people as a result of the escalation of conflict in the area. Communities in Al Hudaydah are particularly vulnerable, and the acute malnutrition rate in Al Hudaydah exceeds the 15% WHO emergency threshold.

“The heartbreaking stories we see in the field are not easy to talk about.” 

– Asma’a Dunia, MedGlobal’s Yemen Program Manager

As the COVID-19 crisis escalated this summer, MedGlobal began to support the Al Waera Isolation Unit in Al Khawkha district and Hays General Hospital in Hays district. Our Program Manager Asma’a conveyed that traveling to the health facilities from Taiz governorate is increasingly difficult as the route is permanently damaged and difficult to traverse. The area is filled with military sites and there is a consistent lack of internet and communication networks, making coordination extremely difficult and time consuming. 

Hays district is surrounded by frontlines and access to the area is heavily restricted. The people living there face daily risks to their safety and healthcare access issues are common, even for health emergencies. For those who are able to leave the area to access healthcare, they need to travel more than 4 hours to reach the nearest health center. Hays General Hospital, which MedGlobal supports, has been targeted twice by attacks that inflicted significant damage. The hospital also suffers from constant shortages of equipment, supplies, and medications. MedGlobal’s delivery of PPE and equipment was crucial for the capacity of this hospital – however, significantly more support is needed for all of Yemen’s health facilities in the long-term for the health system to cope with both COVID-19 and the broader humanitarian crisis.