Desperate Yemeni parents sell belongings for medicine

2-year-old Amal suffers from severe malnutrition, which has led her to develop Kwashiorkor condition. She's in hospital, but the lack of medical supplies makes it difficult to treat her case.
2-year-old Amal suffers from severe malnutrition. She’s in hospital, but the lack of medical supplies makes it difficult to treat her case.

Our Yemeni colleagues have been in touch with worrying news. They are reporting that hospitals in the war-torn country of Yemen are running out of medicine.

We already know that a lack of food and fuel across the country has led to a widespread hunger crisis, with many babies and children suffering from malnutrition.

This leaves these youngsters vulnerable to diarrhoea and a variety of secondary infections that can be life-threatening, especially when their immune systems are low.

Making long and expensive journeys

Many parents, especially in remote and rural areas, are struggling to find health care facilities that are functioning or well-stocked with medicine.

That’s why they’re having to travel to bigger hospitals in cities including the capital Sana’a.

Families have told our staff that they are borrowing money from family and friends to afford the journeys that are often very long.

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Lack of medicine

On arrival, these hospitals can diagnose malnutrition and other infections. But they’ve run out of the medicines needed to treat these conditions.

They’re forced to ask some parents to go out to chemists and shops to buy the medicines they need themselves.

Often these chemists and shops don’t have medicines available, owing to the de facto blockade, and the medicines that do exist are overpriced.

Selling belongings

Because many people have lost their jobs and livelihoods owing to the fighting, they have very little cash available – even for medicines they know will save their children’s lives.

Many are resorting to selling their belongings or taking out loans.

Amal’s story

Two-year-old Amal (pictured) was suffering Kwashikor – a severe form of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein and nutrients that traps fluid in body tissues. She was taken to al-Sabeen Hospital in Sana’a, the capital.

Her mother said: “Twenty days ago she got acute diarrhoea, we went immediately to the closest health centre in our village. But doctors asked us to go to the capital city Sana’a because they don’t have medicine.

“When we arrived in Sana’a, we came to this hospital and they said she needs medicine. I was forced to sell my jewellery to afford it.”

The hospital’s manager Dr Hilal AlBahri said: “Children are dying and we are out of medicine. The health system has already collapsed.”

Children dying

Children also face the direct threat of war.

At least 1,188 children have been killed and more than 1,796 wounded by airstrikes and ground fighting since the start of the conflict in March 2015.

What we’re calling for

Save the Children is calling for an international investigation into violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen and for the UK government to stop licensing arms to Saudi Arabia while there is a risk they could be used in these violations.


In the media

Channel 4’s Unreported World is covering the crisis in its programme at 7:30pm tonight.

For those affected by what are sure to be distressing images, and by stories like baby Amal’s, you can stand with us in two ways:



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Names changed to protect identities.

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