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Yemeni women’s health struggles in the face of war

September 21, 2015

© 2006 Basil Safi, Courtesy of Photoshare

© 2006 Basil Safi, Courtesy of Photoshare

The World Health Organization has declared the war in Yemen to be one of the largest humanitarian issues the world is currently facing. Over 12.9 million people in Yemen lack basic food supplies and more than 850,000 children are suffering acute malnutrition according to USAID.

As bombings led by Saudi Arabia have intensified in the last 6 months, medical workers have fled and over 25% of health facilities have closed. Rural Yemeni mothers face particular hardship with the most underweight infants in the world.

But in the ancient small town of Tarim, health worker Um Amina used her role at a small clinic to not just treat local women, but give them the knowledge to improve their own health using an Arabic translation of Where There Is No Doctor.

Women visiting her clinic routinely suffered from dangerous, but treatable, health issues, such as anemia, malnutrition and bacterial infections. Malnutrition leads to lower breastmilk production, so women would turn to unsafe alternatives like watered-down formula or sugar water, greatly increasing the likelihood that their babies would be malnourished too. Misinformation about antibiotics led to severe infections and heightened fears that children’s fevers were untreatable.

Um Amina developed weekly trainings on nutrition, breastfeeding, basic sanitation, and first aid using the methods outlined in Where There Is No Doctor to address these challenges. Now many basic sanitation issues have improved, women are better nourished — and producing more breastmilk — and infection and fevers have decreased.

Our Gratis Book Program sends free copies of our health information to communities around the world that can’t afford them. Your contribution will deliver the health information people need to resist war and destruction.