Unrest in Yemen: MSF helps respond to increased medial needs while it continues its relief activities in the country

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is supporting health centres in Yemen, helping to respond to needs emerging in light of ongoing unrest and, in coordination with Yemeni authorities and medical committees, is ready to scale up its support if needed. MSF also continues to run medical activities in different governorates of the country, as well as in Sana’a city.

Ever since demonstrations began in Yemen last January, the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières has been closely monitoring the situation in the country as it evolved. In Sana'a, Aden, Ta'ezz, Al Hudeidah and Hajjah, MSF teams are in contact with both Yemeni authorities and medical committees set up by demonstrators.

“Our teams have regularly visited ten medical facilities, including field hospitals set up by demonstrators, in Sana’a, Ta’ezz and Aden, among other locations, to offer our help in dealing with the influx of wounded people,” says Dr.Vipul CHOWDHARY, MSF representative in Yemen. “What we found is that medical staff both in public and private hospitals, as well as in field health centres in the main areas where demonstrations are taking place, are very competent and committed. Health structures are generally well equipped in terms of both medical supplies and staff”.

In Sana’a, Aden and Ta’ezz, MSF teams donated some medical material when there has been a heavy influx of wounded. Meanwhile the organization is actively involved in medical evacuation and referrals of severely wounded patients to hospitals.

While MSF medical doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists are already present on the ground, MSF is ready to scale up its relief activities should the need occur, in-keeping with its mandate of absolute impartiality and transparency towards all parties involved.

Meanwhile, MSF significantly scaled up its operations in Yemen during 2010, in order to provide medical care to most vulnerable.

In the north, where unrest continues to heavily affect access to healthcare for the most vulnerable, MSF is present in Saada, Amran and Hajjah governorates. “Even if the war between the government and the Houthi group has officially been over for more than one year, violence regularly erupts in northern areas,” explains Dr. Chowdhary. “This has a double impact on the population. On one hand, it continues to reduce people’s access to healthcare, as roads are sometimes cut off and the rehabilitation of a war-torn health system is slowed down. On the other hand, thousands of displaced people either cannot or do not want to come back to their home villages, fearing violence or revenges.”

In Saada governorate, MSF is supporting rural hospitals in Al Talh and Razeh, as well as another hospital in Saada town, in a bid to help offer free-of-charge medical care including surgery to the resident and displaced population. Also during 2010, MSF teams supported a large-scale measles immunization campaign in the governorate, immunizing some 120,000 children.

In Hajjah governorate, MSF dramatically scaled up its activities in Haradh in order to help displaced populations gain access to healthcare, including general consultations, maternal and reproductive care, hospitalizations, nutritional rehabilitation, surgery and psycho–social support.

In Khameer and Huth, Amran governorate, MSF launched an intervention in April 2010 to respond to increased medical needs after tens of thousands of people fled intense fighting in Saada. MSF then developed its activities to address the recurrent health needs of the resident population, offering services including emergency, life-saving care as well as surgery. In 2010, almost 10,000 emergency consultations were performed, while in the last three months of the year MSF performed more than 400 surgical interventions, out of which some 25 percent were related to violence.

In Lahj governorate, in the south of Yemen, MSF helps the Radfan district public hospital cope with the needs of the population affected by unrest. Between July and December 2010, more than 5,000 emergency patients received treatment and 392 surgical procedures were performed.

In addition, MSF initiated a partnership with the Yemeni health authorities to improve the treatment and reduce the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS in the capital city, Sana’a.

MSF reaffirms its commitment to the Yemeni people and its intention to continue providing medical-humanitarian assistance in the country, based exclusively on its impartial evaluation of medical needs.

MSF is a private international association, providing humanitarian medical relief in more than 65 countries around the world, including Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Sudan. MSF does not accept funding from any government for its work in Yemen and chooses to rely solely on private donations.

For further information on MSF activities, see MSF document: “MSF in Yemen. Activity Report 2010