A new Surgical Hospital for War Victims.
Our staff at the Surgical Centre for War Victims in Hajjah, in the north of Yemen, will provide free, high-quality healthcare to the victims of one of worst humanitarian crises in the world, brought about by the ongoing war in the country.
The building set to house the hospital is currently being renovated. Our staff in the country are busy at work on and it should be running in the second half of the year.
Furthermore, since the end of May 2021, our staff has been engaged in training courses in Pre-hospital Trauma Care for healthcare professionals and local specialized healthcare personnel.
A desperate humanitarian crisis
For more than six years now, Yemen has been in the grips of a desperate humanitarian crisis. Its infrastructure has suffered heavy damage, its electrical grid has been destroyed, its national health system is on the brink of collapse and its people are falling into ever deeper hunger, even famine. From 2015 to 2020 war claimed over 18,000 civilian victims, through over 20,000 aerial attacks. About 130,000 people needed treatment for traumatic injuries from the conflict.
As if that were not enough, in 2019 the country went through its biggest ever cholera epidemic and in 2020 had over 230,000 suspected cases of the disease in all but one of its 23 governorates.
And all this in a country where just half of the 5150 medical facilities are fully functioning and more than 20 million of whose people do not have access to proper medical treatment.
Yemen has a very young population; most of its people are under 18 years old and almost 3 million of them are under five. Estimates from HeRAMS 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Yemen Data Project and Health Cluster Yemen suggest that a child dies every ten minutes in the country.
Hajjah governorate has been very hard hit by the fighting, which has left it one of least stable and most dangerous parts of Yemen. About 600,000 of the roughly 2.6 million people living there have had to leave their homes when battle lines were redrawn, and over 2 million have needed humanitarian aid.
War surgery and life-saving treatment
The centre will give free surgical and trauma treatment, including post-operative care and rehabilitation.
At first patients will only be admitted for war surgery and life-saving treatment, but, depending on the amount of beds available, the criteria will be broadened to include children under 14 with trumatic injuries and then people of all ages with civilian trauma.
Hajjah’s strategic position means we will be able to reach a large number of people, in the governorates of Hajjah, Al Hudaydah and Sa’dah.
In December 2018 and in spring 2019 we came to Hajjah, about 70 miles from the capital Sana’a, to decide whether it was feasible to build a hospital here for war victims. The ministry of health for Sana’a and the WHO helped us locate a building that we could turn into a centre for war surgery. It was once the governor’s house but has since been damaged by bombing.
Since late 2019, under the WHO’s coordination, the building has been undergoing an initial renovation. In December 2020 we took this work in hand; it is set to last eight months.
Our work involves renovating the building in its entirety, setting up mechanical systems, plumbing and electrics (including a central distribution system for medical gas to be used in the operating block), and building an intensive care ward, first aid and buildings for auxiliary services.
Our team consists of a head of project, site manager, logistician and head of systems. They are staying in Hajjah to oversee the renovation, which is being carried out by local firms.
The hospital will have four operating theatres, first aid, an area for diagnostics (including a laboratory for analysis and radiology), a post-treatment clinic, a room for short intensive monitoring, five intensive care beds, 60 ordinary beds, a physiotherapy room, a cast room, a pharmacy, offices, and technical and auxiliary services (a laundry and a kitchen), the latter shared with nearby Al-Gomhori Hospital.
Since May 2021, a second team, of medical workers, has started giving training to first aid workers from medical facilities near the front lines in several governorates in the country’s north.
The aim is to form an efficient regional network that will stabilise patients, give them trauma treatment and first aid.