Fighting Malnutrition in Remote Pockets of Yemen

Separated from healthcare and clean water by conflict, nearly 15 million Yemenis — half the country’s population — are in desperate need of basic medical attention. Another 4.5 million lie on the brink of famine.

Children are among the most vulnerable. Malnutrition threatens 462,000 Yemeni children and already has stunted more than half of the country’s under-five population. These children likely will go on to suffer diminished mental capacity and increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. United Nations General Secretary António Guterres has said that a child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes.

Relief International has deployed 12 mobile medical teams to Hajjah, Sana’a, and Amran governorates, where two-thirds of families have no access to healthcare and where half of them have not had food of any kind in their homes at least once in the past month. Most families in these areas regularly rely on help from a friend or relative to eat.

With funding from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Relief International’s mobile medical teams travel to the most remote parts of these regions to treat children suffering from acute malnutrition. The teams also vaccinate children against measles, mumps, rubella and TB and provide maternal health services such as birth-planning workshops, post-natal care lessons and safe delivery kits. Household hygiene kits, which include basic items such as soap and a water bucket, are distributed to help families maintain their health and hygiene, even while displaced.

Integration is part of the RI Way, and combining healthcare and hygiene programs helps break the cycle of chronic poor health. RI also prioritizes participation. In Yemen, RI has trained 150 community-based health workers who go door-to-door screening children for malnutrition and referring the sick to the mobile medical teams. These volunteers also distribute vitamins to pregnant and lactating women, follow up when children drop out of RI’s malnutrition treatment program and raise awareness of good hygiene practices in the villages.

In Yemen, Relief International works to meet communities’ immediate needs, while laying the groundwork for a successful future.