Yemen: Hospitals facing number of malnourished children


Yemen (Web Desk) Twenty Yemeni children huddle together outside Khokha hospital, hoping to be let into a clinic that serves as a lifeline for tens of thousands.

On the narrow pavement, a boy dressed in purple leans limply against his mother. In her lap is a baby with expressionless eyes.

The hospital, located in a government-controlled western province, is one of the war-torn country´s better-resourced clinics.

It receives supplies and aid from the United Nations and donors including the United Arab Emirates, a main ally of the internationally recognised Yemeni authorities.

But nearly four years into a war that has pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of starvation, even Khokha hospital cannot meet the needs of all the malnourished children who arrive daily.

“We take the phone numbers of the patients when there are n´t enough beds for them, and when a case is discharged, we call them back for treatment,” says Abdullah Zuhair, a doctor in the children´s ward.

The United Nations calls Yemen the world´s worst humanitarian crisis.

The long-impoverished country has been crippled by a blockade, economic collapse and the war between Iran-backed rebels and government forces propped up by a Saudi-led coalition.

Khokha hospital is located just 100 kilometres — a two-hour drive — south of port city Hodeida, the target of a pro-government offensive against Yemen´s Huthi rebels which has sparked fears of a fresh humanitarian collapse.

The hospital serves as the main facility for health services in the district, home to 30,000 people, as well as Yemenis in neighbouring areas.

And every day, without fail, new cases of acutely malnourished children turn up for the doctors to treat.

Inside the hospital, staff work around the clock, weighing children, taking measurements and injecting nutrients for those too weak to chew.

One-year-old Yahia weighs in at 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds) — nearly half the average weight of children his age.

As the baby waits for emergency treatment, he cries inconsolably in his mother´s arms.


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