Story
11 Dec 2021
By: IOM Germany

Meet Elmira and Dr. Ahmed Saeed. Elmira* is 31 years old and a midwife. She brings relief to people’s doorsteps. Ahmed is a physician. Both are members of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Mobile Medical Team. Together they travel to communities living in hard-to-reach areas to offer lifesaving care on Yemen's West Coast.

Yemen - IOM’s three mobile clinics on the west coast serve populations in 23 displacement sites in Ta’iz and Al Hodeidah governorates. Each mobile team consists of a doctor, assistant doctor, midwife, nurse and pharmacist. Together they work hard to provide primary and emergency health services.  Think of medical consultations, reproductive health, medications, immunizations, as well as maternal and child health care. Sometimes the teams refer patients in need to nearby facilities for more complicated cases. 

Elimra is the midwife of one of these teams. She has been a midwife in the town of Mawza’ since 2014. Every morning, Elmira and her team ride in the mobile clinic to IOM’s warehouse in Al Makha. There they stock medical supplies and medicine before they head to displacement camps in remote and underserved areas on the West Coast.

Yemen’s west coast is home to over 17,000 displaced families living across 141 displacement sites. Poverty, food insecurity and harsh living conditions – combined with the absence of adequate health services – greatly compromise their health and increase their vulnerability to illnesses. Populations living in low-resourced areas lack access to health centres or other public services.

“We come to this area because the rough terrain, poor living conditions and an absence of transportation prevents people from reaching health care facilities. We are the only source of health care they can rely on." - Elmira

In southwest Ta’iz, a remote area along Yemen’s west coast, health care is limited. Families know that if their loved ones become sick their options for health care are limited. Many must wait several days on transport to take the ill to hospitals.

Recent fighting in the area has brought the frontlines even closer to areas where thousands of people are displaced in sites serviced by humanitarian actors.

"We can hear shelling from the fighting while we are doing our work, and it scares me at times” - Elmira

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the mobile health teams have also become one of the only services people in the area can rely on for information about preventing COVID-19 and assistance for treatment.

Ongoing conflict, waves of displacement and the COVID-19 pandemic have overburdened the already collapsing health system, leaving nearly 20 million people in need of adequate healthcare throughout the country.

The situation is particularly dire for displaced communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, IOM’s health teams have been focusing efforts on preventing the spread of COVID-19 among these populations.

"Displaced people in this area live in overcrowded sites with extremely poor living conditions, making them vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. They lack knowledge about how to prevent the disease from spreading.” -Dr. Ahmed Saeed

The mobile health teams run COVID-19 screening and triage, bringing suspected cases to Al Makha Hospital for testing and treatment. They also conduct health promotion to raise the awareness on how to prevent the spread of the disease and the importance of the vaccination, which residents of the area can receive at nearby Al Muthiana Health Centre.

Between July and early November 2021, IOM’s Mobile Medical Teams provided health services to more than 10,000 people on the west coast, and reached over 2,500 people with COVID-19 awareness sessions. In addition, at Al Muthaina Health Centre, IOM covered incentives for health staff and stocked with medical supplies earlier in the year.

“That’s why the work we do is crucial. After learning from our health experts, communities now better understand how to protect themselves from the virus.”

IOM’s health response for vulnerable communities in displacement sites and remote areas of the west coast is supported by the government of Canada. The government of Germany provides support for the Organization’s COVID-19 prevention and treatment work.

IOM receives funding from the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) for “Strengthening IOM's COVID-19 Life-Saving Response in Humanitarian Settings” in several countries around the world as part of IOM’s Strategic Response and Recovery Plan for COVID-19 (SRRP). We would like to tell the stories of some of the people who benefited from this support.

*Elmira is a fictional name to protect her privacy and safety. 

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities