A consultation in Razeh Hospital. Photo: Virginie Amehame Troit, MSF
War has been ongoing for the past two months in northern Yemen. One of the last hospitals still operating in the Saada governorate area was directly hit by fighting last week and forced to stop its work. Patients urgently need a hospital set up in a safe area so they can access healthcare. MSF is ready to restart medical activities in the governorate as soon as possible. During the night between Oct. 15 and 16, Razeh hospital, in the Saada governorate, was hit by rocket fire. Staff and patients were forced to evacuate the premises the following day despite the many wounded in need of continued medical attention. Only the day before, 10 war-wounded patients, including six children and two women, had been hospitalized in the facility. A the time, international humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was working in the hospital with the Ministry of Health. MSF reiterates its call to the warring parties to guarantee respect for medical facilities and to facilitate patients’ access to care. MSF has been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in two hospitals in Al Talh and Razeh, in the Saada governorate, since late 2007, providing medical and surgical care free of charge. Despite difficulties, activities had continued uninterrupted until now, thanks to an agreement between both parties to the conflict. But medical work is no longer possible given that even the minimum security conditions are no longer met. Since the fighting broke out and work stopped in Al Talh (on Sept. 27) and Razeh (on Oct. 16), MSF and Yemeni Ministry of Health’s medical teams have carried out some 2,000 emergency consultations and performed 195 surgical interventions (70% involving war wounds), 330 hospitalizations and more than 130 deliveries. These were the last two secondary healthcare facilities still operating in the governorate, outside the town of Saada, making their suspension of care of particular concern. “After more than two months of non-stop intensive fighting, the medical and surgical needs in the Saada region are running high, but most of the population can no longer reach any medical facilities,” says Isabelle Defourny, a doctor and the manager for MSF’s programs in Yemen. “There is an urgent need to set up a hospital in an area where safety conditions will allow patients to safely access medical care.” Such security conditions currently exist in Mandabah (district of Baqim), located north of the governorate, where a number of people have gathered after fleeing the fighting. MSF teams have been conducting evaluations in this area since late August, and consider it a priority to set up a hospital there right away. MSF medical and surgical teams are ready to provide assistance. The organization is waiting for authorization from authorities to begin providing secondary healthcare in Mandabah as soon as possible.