On 7 November, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) marked the one-year anniversary of its mother and child hospital in Taiz, assisting in the deliveries of 24 babies in a single day.
The figure represents “a new record for childbirths,” says Georgina Brown, MSF’s medical team leader in Taiz. “The maternity ward was so busy that we had to use some beds in the emergency room. We are thrilled to see all the newborns and their mothers recovering well.”
MSF opened the mother and child hospital in Al-Houban, Taiz, to improve access to healthcare 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 almost daily shelling, airstrikes, bomb blasts, landmine explosions and sniper fire. The intense fighting makes it very difficult for people to safely access healthcare.
The MSF hospital is the only facility providing free maternal and child healthcare 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 in 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 from over 10 countries, the majority of whom are Yemeni.
Because of the difficulties in accessing healthcare, many women and children arrive at the hospital at the very last minute, often with serious complications. One of the 24 babies born on the anniversary of the hospital was a little baby girl, whose mother came in very late. “The mother arrived at the hospital 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 characterised by high blood pressure, with the risk of developing seizures or failure of the liver or kidneys). After the delivery, she also suffered from post-partum haemorrhage (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. MSF provides lifesaving healthcare 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.
As an impartial and neutral medical humanitarian organisation, MSF supports and runs 30 hospitals in eight governorates across Yemen, treating people irrespective of their religious, tribal, political or other affiliations. More than 50,000 war-wounded patients have been treated in MSF- run or supported hospitals across Yemen since March 2015.