SANA'A, Sep. 08 (Saba)- Yemen is among the most challenging places in the world to raise a family. Mothers and children have alarmingly poor health even when compared with other impoverished nations.
It is a tragic reality. In Yemen, one in thirteen children don’t live to see their fifth birthday; this is twice as many as in other countries in the region.
Abdullah Yahya Shaddad is trying to raise his family. He cradles his granddaughter His family live in Beit al-Faqih, Al-Hodeidah governorate. When Entesar was 8 months old, she weighed only 3.10 kg – the same as three bags of rice, half what is expected of a baby that age.
“Entesar has turned 9 months, but her body is very weak and tiny, and even her mother’s body is very thin - and this could be the reason for the baby’s condition.”
The family are one of the hundreds of families across Yemen who are struggling to buy enough of the right, nutritious food to feed their families..
“We only have the cow’s milk and bread and we sometimes buy rice and potatoes, and this is our ordinary food and because the market is far from our region and our financial situation allows us only to buy the necessities..” Shaddad added.
A lack of money for food is not the only problem, as chronic under-funding, mass displacement of people and a prioritisation of urban over rural delivery of health services have left the most vulnerable people in remote regions without access to lifesaving care.
In many cases this means that mothers know their children are sick but they have no place to take them or money to cover the costs of treatment.
For Entesar, it was different. “We heard from the people of the village that there is a medical team visiting the area, I told Entesar’s mother to go and take her daughter for examination to see how can support.” Said Shaddad
Luckily, Save the Children’s team of doctors, nurses and mid-wives were visiting a nearby village. The mobile health teams travel across Yemen, providing general consultations, medicines and treatment. The medical professionals are also trained to identify children and their family members who show signs of malnutrition. Save the Children runs centres where mothers can bring their malnourished children. Here children like Entesar receive specialized food and care to help them recover and the mother’s receive advice on how to look after their children and themselves.
The good news is she has already put on some weight. She still has some way to go but the team will follow her progress until Entesar is healthy and her family happy.
But not all children in Yemen are so lucky. Save the Children is deeply concerned for the three hundred thousand children whose lives are at risk due to the hunger crisis. Malnutrition affects a child’s immunity so a child suffering from malnutrition is more likely to become ill with diarrhoea, malaria, measles, simple diseases that can become life threatening diseases. “People, both returnees and families affected by the conflict, face significant challenges in the areas of food, shelter, health, water and sanitation, education and protection.Together with other agencies in Yemen, Save the Children supports an integrated approach, one which includes strengthing health services, improving communities’ access to clean water, as well as enhancing livelihoods.” Jerry Farrell, the Country Director of Save the Children in Yemen stated. Farrell recently participated in the Riyadh Donors’ Conference in Riyadh, September 4-5. “It’s great news that the donors will make substantially more resources available to Yemen. Save the Children,” he said, “along with other NGOs and INGOs, is expanding its programs rapidly and looks forward to putting these additional resources to work for the people of Yemen.”
“Number of beneficiaries reached till 30 June 2012 was 296,000 adults, 261,279 children . A total of 84,571 medical consultations have been conducted by our mobile teams in Amran. In Hodedia. 7,456 children have been screened for malnutrition and of these, 4,372 visited our emergency feeding programmes.” Farrell added.
By: Save the Children