“The health system here has been left in ruins, with a lack of primary health care services that would support in the detection and prevention of medical problems at an early stage,” said Sebastian Loth, MSF’s field coordinator at the Al Qanawis project. “Some of the women who come to deliver at the clinic are malnourished, which can have a subsequent impact on the health of their baby. Many of the newborns have a low birth weight and require treatment in the neonatology ward. With little money to pay for transport to seek medical help, women have no choice but to wait until they are in urgent need of care to travel to the clinic. As a result, many arrive very late, with complications that can sometimes prove fatal for their babies.”
Basic health care at the local level would also support women and girls with family planning choices. With families struggling to feed their existing children, and without proper prenatal care available, the prospect of another pregnancy and delivery is a daunting one for many, and MSF doctors say that they have seen evidence of unsafe abortion attempts. Women also ask for tubal ligation at the clinic, a procedure that can only be performed for medical reasons.
Until people in Yemen can access free, safe health care close to where they live, they will continue to face additional and preventable dangers during pregnancy and childbirth.
*Name changed to protect anonymity.