Talks to strug­gling medics in Ye­men

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT: YEMEN -

l Thawra is the only hos­pi­tal in the Hodeida, a city that is suf­fer­ing se­vere hard­ship due to the on­go­ing civil con­flict in Ye­men. It is a life­line for res­i­dents but is also un­der in­cred­i­ble strain, ac­cord­ing to Dr Ja­mal Ab­dul­moghni, a GP visit­ing from its sis­ter hos­pi­tal in Sana’a.

Ear­lier this month the hos­pi­tal is­sued a dis­tress call to the govern­ment to help treat the thou­sands of pa­tients visit­ing ev­ery day.

“There are more than 100 cases of mal­nu­tri­tion in Hodeida,” Ab­dul­moghni (in­set, right) told 7DAYS.

“The chil­dren need drugs for mal­nu­tri­tion and we should take them to hos­pi­tals in Sana’a as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Among the cases is that of Salim Mus­abih, a six-year-old boy who was brought to the hos­pi­tal in an ema­ci­ated state. Pho­tos of Salim, who comes from the one of the worsthit ar­eas, the Ta­heita dis­trict, went vi­ral and brought the plight of the city and its sur­round­ing ar­eas into the global spot­light, as re­ported by 7DAYS last week.

Ab­dul­moghni said that much of the equip­ment is ru­ined due to poor main­te­nance, leav­ing the hos­pi­tal ill equipped to deal with the 2,000-plus pa­tients who visit each day and the med­i­cal needs on the whole of the gov­er­norate’s 400,000 pop­u­la­tion.

“Lots of med­i­cal con­di­tions en­ter Al Thawra Hos­pi­tal,” he said.

“The com­mon sick­ness for chil­dren is mal­nu­tri­tion while old and young peo­ple of­ten have the in­fec­tious dis­eases and skin dis­eases.

“Al Thawra Hos­pi­tal can­not deal with all the med­i­cal con­di­tions be­cause of a lack of sup­plies and most of med­i­cal equip­ment is ru­ined from poor main­te­nance.

“It is the only hos­pi­tal in the gov­er­norate and 80 per cent of the equip­ment is off. It has no doc­tors, no ex­pe­ri­enced nurses, no phar­ma­cists.”

Hodeida fell un­der the con­trol of Houthi rebels soon af­ter the cap­i­tal Sana’a fell in 2014. The city is a ma­jor sup­ply route of food im­ports into the coun­try, but has been cut off by a naval block­ade im­posed by the ex­iled Ye­men govern­ment since April 2015, re­strict­ing com­mer­cial and hu­man­i­tar­ian im­ports, ac­cord­ing to a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­port. As a re­sult of the lack of food sup­plies and the grow­ing poverty caused by the con­flict, more than 100,000 chil­dren are in des­per­ate need of food in Hodeida alone, a spokesman from UNICEF told 7DAYS last week. Ab­dul­moghni said the break­down of the state af­ter more than 18 months of fight­ing has also led to the col­lapse of med­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture through­out the coun­try. The dam­age to oil in­fra­struc­ture in the fight­ing and with­drawal of in­ter­na­tional oil com­pa­nies has led to a scarcity of fuel for air con­di­tion­ing and elec­tric­ity, com­pound­ing the med­i­cal cri­sis, he added. “In­fec­tious dis­eases and skin dis­eases are com­mon as a re­sult of the high, hot tem­per­a­tures and power out­ages in the city, which causes in­creased body tem­per­a­ture and sweat­ing. That’s why the skin dis­eases are wide­spread in that city.”

The sit­u­a­tion in Hodeida de­te­ri­o­rated rapidly with the on­set of war, he said.

“[ The area] is com­pletely un­der Houthi con­trol, but this is not the rea­son for this bad sit­u­a­tion,” he added af­ter re­turn­ing to Sana’a from the visit.

“Al Hodeida has been bad for the last 35 years, but the sit­u­a­tion of this gov­er­norate be­came worse af­ter the war, es­pe­cially at the end of 2015.”

Fuad Ra­jeh, a Ye­meni jour­nal­ist based in Sana’a, said the naval block­ade may have stopped the in­flow of weapons to Houthis but it has caused a med­i­cal cri­sis through­out the coun­try.

“Many hos­pi­tals have run out of medicines and nec­es­sary med­i­cal sup­plies. The health­care sys­tem in Ye­men has de­te­ri­o­rated largely, and WHO [the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion] is warn­ing it is on brink of to­tal col­lapse,” he said. “Most hos­pi­tals have shut down amid acute short­ages of medicines and other sup­plies, in­clud­ing fuel.”

STRUG­GLING: A ward in­side the Al Thawra hos­pi­tal

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