Stories far from the bullets and bombs

Inside Dhi As Sufal hospital, Yemen

Far from the bullets and bombs at the frontlines in Yemen, and in places like Ibb which are relatively calm, MSF staff witness the second-hand implications of this war.

The collapse of the economy and the health infrastructure has meant that many people are unable to afford transportation to the few and far-between hospitals still functioning in the country. Some delay their visits until the symptoms are more severe, and while they gather the money needed. Many likely never make it to medical centres, and our teams believe that what they see may just be the tip of the iceberg. 

MSF is working in the General Rural Hospital of Dhi As Sufal district in Ibb Governorate since February 2016. The hospital is the closest to one of the country’s violent war front lines bordering Taiz Governorate.

Young Patient in Intensive care unit.

Patient in the Intensive care unit of the hospital.

Young Patient in Intensive care unit.

Patient in the Intensive care unit of the hospital.

MSF is directly providing Emergency Room, Operational Theatre, Intensive Care Unit, and Inpatient Department for the most severe medical conditions for all age groups (neonatal, paediatric and adult patients), including physiotherapy when necessary. Also support to the Ministry of Health maternity, Outpatient Department (OPD), Lab and X-ray departments of the hospital. Recently in the last month MSF started to provide mental health care to the patients admitted in the hospital. MSF also ensures mass casualty management capacity of the hospital.

Stories far from the frontline

Ehab Abdulnasser, 2 years old

Ehab, above, came with his mother to MSF hospital in Dhi As Sufal, Ehab is suffering from liquids in his chest, needs to be removed, but his mother can’t afford to go to private hospital to get treatment for Ehab. The medical team helped Ehab, with medical assistance he needed, and he has been in the Intensive Care Unit for 3 days.

On average, MSF teams offer 210 consultations in the Emergency Room and perform 87 surgeries per week. Finally, MSF provides regular monthly donations to the maternity and OPD departments, in addition to water, fuel and other support to the entire hospital.

Since Jan 2019, MSF has admitted 527 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Due to the huge numbers of the patients that the hospital is receiving, some of the Inpatient Department rooms are able to be opened as ICU.

The neonatal unit has been expand in March 2018, with 17 bed capacity (including isolation room with 2 bed capacity, 4 bed high care unit). Most of the patients are coming from Dhi As sufal, surrounding areas, and Taiz Governorate. The department has been receiving different kind of cases, like tetanus, meningitis, TB, tuberculosis, or any other infectious diseases.

Abdel Fattah Morshed was unable to afford to carry out an operation for his 11-year-old daughter, Raheeq.

"A few days ago she was suffering from high fever and was referring to her stomach as a pain in her stomach. We did not expect she was suffering from appendicitis," said Abdel Fattah. "Because of my financial condition, I did not have the money to take her to the hospital at the same time," Abdel Fattah added after suffering for 3 days, Abdel Fattah decided to go to a nearby private hospital and they told him that she suffered from appendicitis and required surgery to remove it. The cost of the operation is 150,000 YR (US $300)" I told them I could not afford the treatment. And they suggested going to MSF hospital in Dhi Sufal district. When I arrived at the hospital, they did the necessary tests and the operation was done immediately," Abdel Fattah said.

Abdel Fattah works as an Arabic language teacher at a public school, and despite a three-year salary cut, he continues to work because of his love for his profession. In addition to Raheeq, his wife and his mother, Abdel Fattah has 10 children to take care of.

"Before the crisis, my salary was enough for me to live a decent life, but now because of my salary cut, my income has become a small piece of land, and my mother and wife are helping me raise sheep for sale." Abdel Fattah added. Raheeq is now lying in the intensive care unit of MSF hospital, and she is improving every day.

The neonatal unit in the general rural hospital in Dhi As Sufal district of Ibb governorate has been expand in March 2018, with 17 bed capacity, including isolation room with 2 bed capacity, 4 bed high care unit.

Most of the patients are coming from Dhi As sufal, surrounding areas, and Taiz Governorate. The department has been receiving different kind of cases, like tetanus, meningitis, TB, tuberculosis, or any other infectious diseases.

In addition to MSF supported hospital, and due to the increase of the cholera cases in the area, MSF started Cholera treatment centre at the same district.

MSF cholera treatment centre is receiving patients from Ibb, Taiz, and other Internally Displaced People's (IDP) from Hodeidah as well. Since Jan 2019, MSF has received 5466 of patients, between moderate and severe cases and has been working since the opening on 2017.

Ohood's mother is a displaced woman from Taiz city to Al Sayani district of Ibb governorate, after she gave birth to her 20-day daughter, she was infected with cholera. Her neighbors took her to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Hospital in Dhi Al sufal, and have been transferred to MSF Cholera Treatment Center in the same area.

"I left my child with my neighbors to take care of her. I continued my treatment at the center for five days, I went back to my house to find my child sick and bleeding and pus from her nipples." She said.

Ohood's mother rushed her daughter to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital and is now receiving medical care. Ohood's mother lives in a rented house in Al Sayani district. "We were displaced at the beginning of the war, and we thought it would be temporary, so we did not take much of our stuff with us, but as the days passed, things were getting worse from day to day," Ohood's mother said. "My husband's only source of income was the rent of shops he owned and we used to buy. And now because of the war in the city and the closure of shops, he no longer has any source of income.

According to Um Ohood, there are organisations that pay rents for the displaced, which is 50 thousand riyals ($100) per month and other organisations that receive 20 thousand Yemeni riyals ($40) for daily expenses. "Life is different for my children, not like the ones they used to live in Taiz city, and now they are waiting impatiently for me to return to them after my long absence," Ohood's mother said

Kefa Ahmed, accompanied by her 17-month-old daughter Maram, arrived to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cholera treatment centre in Dhi Sufal District.

“At the beginning she was suffering from nausea and diarrhoea. I took her to a nearby health centre, diagnosed her condition as intestinal infections, we did the test again and it was a beginning of cholera. We’ve been told there was a cholera treatment centre nearby. So we came here as fast as we can.” Kefa said.

Kafa Ahmed lives in Houban Taiz, which is about 60 kilometres away from Dhi sufal. It took her about an hour and passed several military points to reach the Cholera Treatment Center. "My husband was begging the soldiers at military check points to let us pass quickly, because at that time my daughter was in a hopeless situation," she added.

Kefa was living in Salh district, Taiz Governorate, and because of a shell hit their house, she fled with her family to Houban and lived in IDP camps in the area.

"Our lives in IDP camps were difficult, our house was destroyed, everything burned, and when we came out of our house, We only had our clothes on, and the rest of our belongings were looted after our exuberance," she said.

"I got married in Houban, and I went to live with my husband in a residential apartment consisting of a room, kitchen and bathroom, and I had my daughter with caesarean section in Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Houban."