Yemen: Delivering Health in a Conflict Zone


Yemen Crisis

More than 66 tons of medical supplies have been shipped to Yemen from Direct Relief since 2015. Here, a shipment of medical aid, coordinated by Direct Relief and local group, Yemen Aid, arrives in the country before distribution to local health facilities. (Photo courtesy of Yemen Aid)

After four years of war and subsequent famine and disease outbreaks, access to quality healthcare is extremely hard to come by for most Yemenis.

The impact of the conflict in Yemen has been catastrophic. Seventy-five percent of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The World Food Programme estimates that more than 20 million Yemenis are food insecure due to blockades at major ports that prevent aid from entering the country.

For the New York based nonprofit, Yemen Aid, the struggle is personal.

Founded in 2016 by a group of young Yemeni-Americans, Yemen Aid has been working tirelessly to deliver desperately needed aid throughout the war-torn nation.

Despite the logistical challenges of delivering aid within a conflict zone, Direct Relief has shipped over 66 tons of medicines and medical supplies to Yemen over the past two years to local groups like Yemen Aid. Included in those shipments are Direct Relief Emergency Health Kits, which contain life-saving essential medicines and supplies.

Cholera Treatment Kits have also been sent to combat the cholera outbreak that infected over 1.1 million people.

Emergency Medical Backpacks have also been sent to equip Yemen Aid’s mobile medical teams providing care in conflict zones across rebel-held territories.

Strengthening Cancer Treatment for Women

The healthcare system in Yemen has been decimated in recent years, more than half of the population lacks access to even basic health care, and less than 40 percent of hospitals in the country remain functional.

To help address this medical access crisis, Direct Relief has partnered with Yemen Aid to build the “Pink Clinic,” the first ever breast and cervical cancer early detection center in the southern city of Lahj.

The newly renovated clinic is now open to the public and doctors see women from the provinces of Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Al Dhale arriving to receive free breast and cervical cancer screenings provided by trained nurses of the National Cancer Control Foundation.

In addition to screenings, the Pink Clinic will hold health education courses to teach women how to conduct self-examinations to discover tumors in early stages, which increases chances of successful treatment and recovery. Many women are afraid to seek care due to the stigma that’s often associated with the illness, making preventative screenings and education surrounding the disease especially critical for Yemeni women. Mortality rates of breast and cervical cancers are much higher in the Middle East because the region lacks a culture of regular screenings, according to the World Health Organization

Direct Relief remains committed to providing essential medical resources to Yemen with the support of local organizations such as Yemen Aid and Yemen’s Ministry of Health. Upcoming efforts include equipping medical teams in Taiz province with shelter and medical supplies to assist those who have been displaced by the conflict. Supporting local hospitals, including facilities in Sana’a, Al Hodeida, and Aden, with more critical medicines also remains a top priority.

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