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CARE's Mobile Health Teams: Bringing healthcare to the doorsteps of hard-to-reach communities in Yemen

Women and kids sitting down waiting patiently as one of them is receiving first aid on her arm

A medical staff examines women from the host and displaced communities in the Zingbar, Abyan Governorate. Photo: Bassam Saleh / CARE Yemen.

A medical staff examines women from the host and displaced communities in the Zingbar, Abyan Governorate. Photo: Bassam Saleh / CARE Yemen.

Over seven years of conflict in Yemen have resulted in significant damage to physical infrastructure, economy, and services, forcing millions of Yemenis to suffer the compounded effects of the war, economic crisis, and disrupted public services. Only half of all health facilities across the country are fully functioning, while 21.9 million people need support to access critical health services. The conflict has contributed to significant outbreaks of communicable diseases, including vaccine-preventable diseases, such as cholera, diphtheria, dengue, measles, and the resurgence of vaccine-derived polioviruses. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the health situation. Staff shortages, inadequate supplies and equipment, inability to meet operational costs and power outages caused by lack of fuel put the lives of millions at risk.

The ongoing conflict has further compromised the availability and accessibility of health care in rural and conflict-affected areas. In Yemen’s rural areas, the lack of nearby health facilities overwhelms already vulnerable communities. It is estimated that 42.4 percent of Yemen’s population live more than one hour away from the nearest fully or partially functional public hospital, and 30.6 percent live more than 30 minutes away. The majority of health facilities in Yemen’s countryside suffer from neglect and a lack of essential equipment and basic medicines. In addition, due to inadequate resources and weak governance, the number of healthcare workers is limited, and the capacity of those available is severely depleted.

A woman standing next to a car
CARE mobile health team on their way to the target areas to provide integrated health services. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen.

With funding from Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF), CARE works to provide primary health services to populations unable to access health facilities through mobile health teams. The mobile health teams brave long distances and risky terrains to bring primary health initial services to displaced communities and remote hard-to-reach villages of Zingbar District in Abyan Governorate, prioritizing reproductive health, mental health, psychosocial support, severe malnutrition response, and management of non-communicable diseases.

“Many families living in remote areas on the outskirts of Zingbar don’t have access to basic services and rely only on humanitarian aid. As a result, people in these areas are susceptible to many diseases, and many children suffer from malnutrition,” says Emad Ayed, a Medical Assistant in one of CARE’s mobile health teams.

A man with a face mask
Emad Ayed, a nurse in one of CARE's mobile health teams. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen.

The mobile health teams consist of: a doctor who leads the team, nurses, vaccinators, nutrition staff, midwives, and community health volunteers. The teams conduct examinations and provide consultations and medication for patients free-of-charge. They also refer patients that need advanced care to the nearest health facilities.

“The two mobile health teams provide critical healthcare services for residents of areas where nearby health facilities aren’t available,” says Emad. “These teams provide a vital lifeline for people living in displacement sites and remote areas. My colleagues and I work tirelessly to deliver life-saving medical services, including consultations, medications, medical childcare, vaccination services, reproductive healthcare, and referrals, to people in need.”

“My son Mohammed started to faint and cough, so I brought him to be examined by the mobile health team. Thanks to the mobile health team, I received medications and directions to take care of him at home. I hope he gets better soon,” says Afaf Saeed, a mother of six, who visited the mobile health team for her son’s treatment.

“I’ve heard many stories of pregnant women struggling to access reproductive health services,” says Dr. Amal Awad, a member of CARE’s mobile health team. “Women’s financial conditions prevent them from traveling to the nearest health facility where they can get reproductive health services. Through my work in the mobile health team, I pass through a difficult road to provide relief for these women. And this is what motivates me to do my work,” she concludes.

A man wearing a face mask is taking temperature measurements sample from a woman.
Emad and the mobile clinic team provide healthcare services to the residents of Zingbar District, Abyan. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.
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