IOM YEMEN: BRINGING HOPE TO TA’IZ: NEW HEALTH CENTRE STRENGTHENS SUPPORT FOR HOST AND DISPLACED COMMUNITIES
07 January 2024
Majed Mohammed | IOM Senior Audiovisual and Communications Assistant
Ta’iz, Yemen – Amidst a constant flow of people seeking medical assistance at the newly renovated Wadi Arafat Health Centre in Ta’iz, one-year-old Ali now waits patiently with his mother Roqia*, hopeful to receive the crucial health support that has become a lifeline for those navigating the complex realities of displacement.
In the midst of war-torn Yemen, Roqia’s life crumbled when the conflict reached her village in Maqbana district. Forced to flee her home with her five children, the widow embarked on a daunting journey, leaving everything behind in search of safety and a chance at a better future for her children.
“We came to Ash Shamayytayn looking for protection and a place to live,” Roqia explains. “I couldn’t find any shelter at first, but we were lucky that people offered support. However, I struggled for a long time to provide food and medicine for my children.”
Besides the challenges of adapting to a new society and providing the bare necessities, the 48-year-old also struggled to secure the necessary care for her children, particularly her son who has a liver disease that requires round-the-clock attention, adding immense stress to her already difficult situation.
Years of conflict have resulted in a total collapse of the health infrastructure and disruption to the health system in Yemen, leaving many communities and families like Roqia’s without access to proper health facilities or services.
“When my children got sick, I didn’t have any options for treatment,” she says. “The nearest health centre was very far from the displacement site where we live. As such, I had to rely on home remedies to help them get well.”
Just like Roqia and her son, Aisha* has also grappled with the challenge of accessing regular essential healthcare support for her two-year-old grandson Ali, due to his severe malnutrition.
“We had to leave our home because of the conflict,” shares the grandmother, who has been displaced for over three years. “Throughout this time, we didn’t have access to health services and life was very difficult.”
Their displacement made it challenging for the whole family, especially Ali, to receive medical assistance prior to the recent rehabilitation of the Wadi Arfat Health Centre by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Yemen.
With over 4.5 million internally displaced people and more than 20 million people in need of healthcare throughout the country, accessing basic health services remains a significant barrier for most displaced communities. The impact is most pronounced in areas near the frontlines in Ma’rib and along Yemen’s west coast, although there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance across the entire country.
“People here are in dire need of healthcare,” explains Dr. Refat Hussan, IOM’s Health Team Leader in Ta’iz. “Services have ceased in multiple conflict-affected areas with a large number of displacement camps.”
Despite the initial problems faced by Roqia and Aisha, their determination to care for their children led them to discover a glimmer of hope in the newly rehabilitated health centre supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ta’iz.
IOM, along with its partners, implements comprehensive health programmes across Yemen to guarantee that vulnerable populations can readily access essential services. This involves the construction and rehabilitation of facilities like Wadi Arafat, running mobile medical clinics, training health workers, providing preventative care to curb the spread of diseases, and delivering various other services.
To respond to the communities’ plea for health support, IOM rehabilitated the Wadi Arafat Health Centre in Ta’iz, and equipped the facility with furniture, medicines, and equipment. Nowadays, the health centre not only provides basic healthcare services but also boasts a team of devoted doctors and nurses dedicated to serving the people living in Ash Shamayytayn.
IOM trains healthcare workers to provide appropriate health services, including mental health and psychosocial support, to survivors of gender-based violence, as well as safe referrals to other specialized services.
Working in close coordination with the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the World Health Organization, IOM provides lifesaving primary and secondary preventative and curative healthcare services for internally displaced people, migrants, and host community members.
IOM supports the Ministry in strengthening the public health system in Yemen through the rehabilitation of health facilities, supporting top-up incentive payments for healthcare workers, ensuring a reliable supply of essential medicines, medical supplies, and equipment, providing capacity-building training for healthcare providers, and offering technical support.
Soon after its opening, the health centre became a lifeline for many, including Roqia’s family and young Ali, offering swift assistance for any emerging health issues. Serving over 15,000 residents across five sites for internally displaced people in three districts in Ta’iz, the centre addresses the immediate challenges of accessing quality medical care by providing essential support to both local and displaced populations.
Offering a comprehensive range of medical services, this new health centre addresses the diverse health needs of the community. From primary care, obstetric emergency services, medical laboratory to preventive health measures, specialized treatments, awareness-raising sessions and diagnostic services, the centre is always bustling with activity.
“This place has drastically improved our lives,” shares Roqia. “We regularly receive free health care and medicine, and we don’t need to worry about covering long distances or resorting to traditional remedies when one of our children gets sick.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities
IOM’s rehabilitation of the Wadi Arafat Health Centre in Ta’iz has been funded by the Government of Japan.