In Yemen, which has just entered its eighth year of war in March 2022, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is deploying mobile health teams, who are delivering life-saving medical services to people living in remote mountainous regions. Follow one of their journeys. 

Photos by Saleh Hayyan

Eighty percent of Yemenis are in crucial need of emergency relief and humanitarian assistance. The ongoing conflict has left the public health system in shambles, leaving many Yemenis without access to proper healthcare or treatment. Through the support of the European Union (EU), and in coordination with the Durable Solutions Consortium, IRC health teams are bringing crucial healthcare to people who have no other access to medical treatment in the southern district of Lahj.

At 7:00 in the morning, the mobile health team – which includes a doctor, vaccinator, pharmacist, nutritionist, midwife, and community health supervisor – prepares itself for the journey ahead. In the EU-funded health center, IRC’s health team pharmacist Abdulbari Nasr decides on the medicine and supplies he’s going to take with him for the day.

The mobile health van carries essential items such as medicine, nutrition packs, syringes, vaccines, and bandages – all crucial to bring to hard-to-reach areas with no health facilities. Due to huge spikes in fuel prices, most residents in these areas cannot even afford traveling to the nearest location with a health center.

With the van packed and ready to go – the team is now ready for the three-hour journey to Namra, a remote village located in the mountainous region of Lahj.

The path to the village is rocky and difficult, with no infrastructure for normal vehicles to travel on. The EU-funded mobile health unit thus fills a huge gap in bringing life-saving healthcare to the villages.

On the way to Namra, the van was flagged down by a family living in a rural area, where two women were suffering from a chest infection and hypertension. The team made a quick stop to do a consultation and provided treatment before heading out on the road again.

Finally in Namra, the residents of the village line up to receive consultations from the IRC doctor. Many parents brought young children to get a check-up, including screening them for symptoms of malnutrition and other diseases.

The mobile health services are crucial for parents, such as 40-year old Faisal Ahmed, who brings his children to get check-ups from the IRC team. Dr. Mohsen, a doctor with the mobile health team, evaluates their conditions and give any necessary diagnoses to ensure that they are healthy and safe.

Due to spikes in food prices and widespread poverty, Yemen currently ranks as one of the world’s worst in terms of malnutrition. One of the most crucial services is provided by Faris Ali – IRC’s nutritionist. Today, Faris is screening children and providing treatment in case they show symptoms of severe or moderate malnutrition. This intervention can be crucial for young children such as Hana’a, who are given nutrition packs in case their weight is deemed too low.

Mushir Qassem, the vaccinator in the team, has an important job: to make sure young children are fully vaccinated to protect them against preventable diseases. The mobile health van allows him to transport these vaccines directly to their doorsteps.

The mobile health van also functions as a moving pharmacy – bringing essential medicines to those who need them. After a diagnosis by the doctor, pharmacist Abdulbari Nasr distributes the relevant medicines to treat their conditions.

After a long day’s work, the van is packed up again and the team is ready to go back to the health center – a trip that will take another three hours. Despite the arduous journey, the team is satisfied that they’ve had another lively day of work and look forward to the next day.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the IRC and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

About our work with the European Union

The International Rescue Committee partners with the European Union to provide life-saving support to people caught in conflict and disasters around the world. Our work funded by the EU enables people to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.