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Yemen: Conflict has catastrophic consequences for health care

The people of Yemen, young, and old, are suffering catastrophic consequences because of the country’s two year conflict, and nowhere is that more visible than in the health care system.

 

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s single largest humanitarian crisis: almost 19 million of Yemen’s 24.4 million people need humanitarian assistance.

 

Almost half a million children are suffering severe malnutrition, famine across the country is now a real danger. Tens of thousands have been killed and injured. Boys like 12 year old Mohammad Qasam, who is being treated for serious head injuries in Al Jamhori hospital in Sanaa, are being denied every aspect of childhood.

 

“While I was playing, our house was hit in an air raid,” says Mohammad. “My brother and I were injured. The house fell on me. They took me to the hospital. I was unconscious. I didn’t know where I was.”

 

The hospital is supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, but still faces major shortages of medicines, staff, and equipment. What medicines the hospital does have are given freely to those in need, but often, life saving drugs are only available, at a price, on the private market. Some patients, like 20 year old Mukhtar Ismail, whose back was broken in an airstrike, face going without vital treatment.

 

“I have nothing,” says Mukhtar. “I cannot cover the costs of the medicine. Before being injured, I used to work, walk and do everything.  Now I cannot move or even stand up. I cannot breathe.”

 

Many hospitals in Yemen have been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, those that can still function are overwhelmed with patients, and, pharmacist Arwa Ahmed explains, the shortages affect not just the war wounded.

 

“Because of the war in Yemen, we lack medicines for chronic diseases like high blood pressure, or diabetes, especially here in public hospitals,” she says.

 

“And we have power cuts,” Arwa continues. “So some medicines that need to be kept cold {refrigerated} go bad and we have to throw them away.”

 

The pressure on Yemen’s remaining hospitals, the difficulty of reaching them because of the conflict, and the shortage of medicines, mean people with chronic illnesses, like farmer Ali Qaid, find it almost impossible to get the vital treatment they need. Ali has travelled over 200 kilometres to Al Thawra hospital in Hodeidah because he needs dialysis.

 

“I have children,” he says. “But no one supports us. I have been suffering from kidney failure for six years.”

 

 “I have not been able to work since then. You cannot work with kidney failure.”

 

Many of Yemen’s health professionals have fled the conflict, those who remain, like surgeon Nabil Qasim al-Haj in Al Jamhori hospital, are struggling to cope with an influx of war wounded. Critical injuries, including burns, and major head injuries are often sent to Al Jamhori.

 

“We are facing huge pressures”, says Mr Qasim. “In addition to our usual patients, we are receiving very difficult surgical cases, patients with complex conflict related injuries.”

 

Yemen’s health service is trapped in a vicious circle of conflict, lack of medicines and equipment, poverty, and overwhelming patient need. But despite all this, many dedicated medical staff, like nurse Ibstisam Ali, stay and persevere, her only reward, helping her patients.

 

“Another challenge is that we do not receive our salaries” she says. “However, we are trying to face and overcome such challenges. We do our jobs for the sake of humanitarian work and alleviating the suffering of the patients.”

 

But for patients like 20 year old Mukhtar Ismail, the only real way to end the suffering is to end the conflict. The violence in Yemen has scarred him mentally as well as physically.

 

“There is no security in Yemen now. You can’t move, you can’t even leave your house,” he says.

 

“If you do leave your house, you might be killed in an air raid, or shelled. If you go to the shop to buy something, a bomb might kill you. Your family won’t see you again. Or they will find your dead body, or they will collect your pieces into bags.”

 

“I am praying for God to put an end to the war in Yemen,” Mukhtar continues.  “And for the recovery of all Yemenis, including me.”

 

Meanwhile twelve year old Mohammad Qasam has his own dreams for the future.

 

“I wish that I will recover soon and that all the injured will recover soon as well,” he says.

 

“I wish for peace in Yemen so that I can go back to school again. “

 

Mohammad’s hopes are modest, health and education are the rights of every child. But peace may still be a long way off in Yemen. As the international community gathers for this week’s pledging conference, the very least the world can do for patients like Mohammad and Mukhtar, is to support the medical care they so desperately need.

 

          Facts & Figures:

 

  • An ICRC mobile surgical team has been deployed to the port city of Hodeida.

 

  • The ICRC supported surgical hospital of Al Mansoura, in Aden, has treated about 5,000 cases since the beginning of 2017, many of which are war wounded from the frontlines on the nearby Red Sea Coast.

 

  • The ICRC is providing medical and surgical supplies, and equipment to five main hospitals in Yemen, enabling them to perform 3,449 surgical operations, and to provide inpatient care to 2,361 weapon wounded patients.

 

  • The ICRC is supporting another 80 health facilities in 17 governorates, with over 150 ad-hoc donations of medical and surgical supplies, enabling healthcare for 27,477 war wounded patients; and 30,292 surgical operations to be performed.

 

  • The ICRC is supporting treatment for diabetes patients; with the donation of 200,000 vials of insulin to the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP).

 

  • The ICRC assists four physical rehabilitation facilities under the Ministry of Public Health and Population in Sana’a, Aden, Mukalla and Taiz where more than 70,000 persons with disabilities received services in 2016, including more than 7,000 persons with amputations and 300 mine survivors.

 

 

 

 

 

SHOTLIST

 

Location: Hodeida city and Sana’a, Yemen

Length: 6:43

Format: HD H264 mov

Camera: Hani Ali and Abdul-Jabar

Producers: Adnan Hizam and Iscander al-Mamari

ICRC ref: AV631N_Yemen_Health

Date: 10-11 April 2017

 

0:00 – 0:03 CU child with head injury and burned face Sana'a

0:03 – 0:06 Boy (Mohammad Qasam) with head injury in wheel chair Sana'a

0:06 – 0:10 CU old man (Ali Qaid) in hospital bed Sana'a

0:10 – 0:15 Old lady sitting on hospital floor Sana'a

0:15 – 20:00 CU young man (Mukhtar Ismail) in hospital bed Sana'a

0:20 – 0:25 CU malnourished child Hodeidah

0:25  - 0:32 MS malnourished child Hodeidah

0:32 – 0:35 boy (Mohammad Qasam) being helped into wheelchair Sana'a

0:35 – 0:42 Mohammad being wheeled down hall Sana'a

0:42 – 1:02 Soundbite Mohammad Qasim (Arabic) “While I was playing, our house was hit in an air raid. My brother and I were injured. The house fell on me. They took me to the hospital. I was unconscious. I didn’t know where I was.” Sana'a

1:02 – 1:12 Young boy being treated for head injury  Hodeidah

1:12 – 1:19 ICRC nurse and doctor treating young man with head injury Hodeidah

1:19 – 1:28 Pharmacists handing out medicines Hodeidah

1:28 – 1:38 Pharmacist taking medicines off shelves Hodeidah

1:38 – 1:43 MS young man (Mukhtar Ismail) in hospital bed Sana'a

1:43 – 2:07 Sound bite Mukhtar Ismail (Arabic) “I have nothing. I cannot cover the costs of the medicine. Before being injured, I used to work, walk and do everything.  Now I cannot move or even stand up. I cannot breathe.”Sana'a

2:07 – 2:15 Ambulance coming in hospital gates Sana'a

2:15 – 2:25 Injured patient on stretcher being wheeled by Sana'a

2:25 – 2:29 MWS empty pharmacy shelves  Hodeidah

2:29 – 2:33 MCU pharmacy shelves Hodeidah

2:33 – 2:54 Sound bite pharmacist Arwa Ahmad (Arabic) “Because of the war in Yemen, we lack medicines for chronic diseases like high blood pressure, or diabetes, especially here in public hospitals. And we have power cuts. So some medicines that need to be kept cold {refrigerated} go bad and we have to throw them away.”Hodeidah

2:54 – 3:02 WS crowded hospital entrance Sana'a

3:02 – 3:08 people waiting at ward entrance  Sana'a

3:08 – 3:13 MWS old man (Ali Qaid) in hospital bed, dialysis Sana'a

3:13 – 3:21 another patient having dialysis Sana'a

3:21 – 3:26 doctor checking Ali’s blood pressure Sana'a

3:26 – 3:41 Sound bite Ali Qaid (Arabic) “I have children. But no one supports us. I have been suffering from kidney failure for six years. I have not been able to work since then. You cannot work with kidney failure.”Sana'a

3:41 – 3:50 – MWS operating theatre with surgeon Nabil Qasim al Haj Sana'a

3:50 – 3:57 MS surgeons  Hodeidah

3:57 – 4:01 tilt down from theatre light Hodeidah

4:01 – 4:06  WS surgery underway Hodeidah

4:06 – 4:12 MS surgery underway Hodeidah

4:12 – 4:21 MS (another angle) surgery underway Hodeidah

4:21 – 4:41 Sound bite surgeon Nabil Qasim al Haj (Arabic) “We are facing huge pressures. In addition to our usual patients, we are receiving very difficult surgical cases, patients with complex conflict related injuries.” Sana'a

4:41 – 4:51 WS chaotic, crowded hospital corridor Sana'a

4:51 – 5:00 MS chaotic crowded hospital Sana'a

5:00 – 5:11 Sound bite (Arabic) nurse Ibstisam Ali “Another challenge is that we do not receive our salaries. However, we are trying to face and overcome such challenges. We do our jobs for the sake of humanitarian work and alleviating the suffering of the patients.” Sana'a

5:11 – 5:17 ICRC nurse and doctor treating patient Hodeidah

5:17 – 5:23 MWS young men in hospital beds Sana'a

5:23 – 5:26 MWS Mukhtar Ismail Sana'a

5:26 – 6:05 Sound bite Mukhtar Ismail (Arabic) “There is no security in Yemen now. You can’t move, you can’t even leave your house. If you do leave your house, you might be killed in an air raid, or shelled. If you go to the shop to buy something, a bomb might kill you. Your family won’t see you again. Or they will find your dead body, or they will collect your pieces into bags. I am praying for God to put an end to the war in Yemen. And for the recovery of all Yemenis, including me.” Sana'a

6:05 – 6:12 Mohammad Qasam being wheeled along outside hospital Sana'a

6:12 – 6:27 Sound bite Mohammad Qasam (Arabic) “I wish that I will recover soon and that all the injured will recover soon as well. I wish for peace in Yemen so that I can go back to school again. “ Sana'a

6:27 – 6:30 CU Mohammad Qasam Sana'a

6:30 – 6:37 MCU child with head injury Sana'a

6:37 – 6:43 MCU malnourished infant Hodeidah

 

Copyright: ICRC access all

 

Download this footage from ICRC Video Newsroom

 www.icrcvideonewsroom.org

 

For further information, please contact:

Soumaya Beltifa (English/Arabic), ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 73 607 1967

Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, + 41 79 447 37 26

To find out what the ICRC is doing to put an end to attacks on health workers and patients, go to
www.healthcareindanger.org or visit our website: www.icrc.org
Follow the ICRC on facebook.com/icrc and twitter.com/icrc

 


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