Medecins Sans Frontieres marked the one-year anniversary on November 7, of its Mother and Child Hospital (MCH) in Taiz, Yemen, with the birth of 24 babies.
The figure represents “a new record for childbirths,” says Georgina Brown, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ medical team leader in Taiz. “The maternity ward was so busy that we had to use some beds in the emergency room (ER). We are thrilled to see all the newborns and their mothers recovering well.” Medecins Sans Frontieres opened the MCH in Al-Houban, Taiz, to improve access to health care for women and children in one of the areas in Yemen hardest hit by the war. In the past year, 3,123 babies have been born in the hospital. Taiz has seen some of the fiercest fighting since the escalation of the conflict began 20 months ago, with shelling, airstrikes, bomb blasts, landmine explosions and sniper fire happening almost daily. The intense fighting makes it very difficult for people to safely access health care.
"Taiz has seen some of the fiercest fighting since the escalation of the conflict began 20 months ago, with shelling, airstrikes, bomb blasts, landmine explosions and sniper fire happening almost daily"
The Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital is the only facility providing free maternal and child health care in the area and has seen an increasing number of patients over the last 12 months. Since the opening, 44,573 patients have been seen at the out-patient department, 4,975 patients have been treated in the ER, and 18,679 pregnancy consultations have been carried out. The 108-bed hospital runs 24/7 with the support of 365 staff coming from over 10 countries, the majority of whom are Yemeni.
Because of the difficulties in accessing health care, many women and children arrive at the hospital at the very last minute, with serious complications. One of the 24 babies born on the anniversary of the MCH was a little baby girl, whose mother came in very late. “The mother arrived to the MCH after having some complications during labour in a private hospital an hour away, before being referred to us because she couldn’t afford the care there,” says Brown. “She was suffering from preeclampsia (a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure, with the risk of developing seizures or failure of the liver or kidneys), and after the delivery she also suffered from post-partum hemorrhage (heavy bleeding), which required a blood transfusion. It was a complicated birth, but thankfully our doctors were able to provide the necessary care. Both mother and baby are now doing well.”
Throughout Taiz city and its surroundings, the impact of war on residents has been keenly felt by all. Many residents have lost family members, homes and livelihoods, and live in constant fear of violence. Medecins Sans Frontieres provides life-saving health care on both sides of the frontlines, and supports four hospitals in Taiz city. It also runs a trauma centre in Al-Houban, treating war-wounded and other patients in need of medical care.