Treating Malnourished Children in Yemen

17th May 2022

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Samaritan’s Purse teams are helping hungry children like Saba as the nation continues to grapple with the effects of a years-long civil war.

Though warring parties in Yemen are currently abiding by a tenuous truce, armed conflict in this nation over the past seven years has left more than 4 million of its citizens displaced. The value of the local currency continues to plummet, forcing many families to go hungry while water, health, and sanitation services have severely deteriorated. As a result, nearly 5 million children in Yemen suffer from malnutrition. Samaritan’s Purse is addressing this critical threat, in part, by supporting two large health facilities and other community services.

In Search of Refuge

At the height of the war, an infant named Saba* lived together with her father, mother, sister, and grandfather in the city where her father worked as a taxi driver. But when an artillery shell hit their home, her family fled south in search of refuge with precious Saba in tow. They eventually resettled in a village that now seems safe, but it lacks many services. For instance, it takes three hours to walk to the nearest health facility.

In their new village, the family lives in a single room of an old house, which lacks both sufficient water and sanitation facilities. Saba’s father has no consistent income, so there is not enough money to hire transportation to take her to regular medical check-ups.

But, when Saba was 9 months old, Samaritan’s Purse community health volunteers visited her village to offer routine health- and nutrition-awareness services. In the process, they screened children under 5 years old for malnutrition by checking their mid-upper arm circumference and their height and weight.

When the volunteers reached Saba, she looked very sick. They gently grasped her left arm to take a screening measurement, only to find the colour red showing through a window on the measuring tape. This indicated that Saba suffered from a severe form of acute malnutrition. In addition, they discovered that she had never received her newborn vaccinations. Concerned for this little one’s health, the volunteers referred Saba and her family to the Mother and Child Health Center run by Samaritan’s Purse.

Being Treated by ‘Angels’

When Saba arrived at the Center, the doctor immediately examined her and confirmed what the community health volunteers had seen. The 9-month-old had severe acute malnutrition with an upper arm circumference of just 10.9 millimeters. She also had a fever and a cough. Saba was immediately treated for an upper respiratory tract infection and enrolled in their outpatient therapeutic program.

The Mother and Child Center staff soon set up a vaccination schedule for Saba and taught her mother about how malnutrition affects a child’s bodily systems. They also informed her mother of the benefits of the nutritional supplements provided and of the importance of following a treatment schedule. In addition, the community health volunteers and Center staff committed to encourage her during the treatment process.

Despite up to three hours of travel, Saba’s mother faithfully brought her daughter to each scheduled return visit at the Center. Over the next 80 days, Saba became a healthy little girl again. With an upper arm circumference of 12.5 millimeters, she was discharged from the therapeutic program to the delight of her family and community.

After Saba received care from Samaritan’s Purse, the screening measuring tape showed the colour green indicating that she no longer suffers from malnutrition.

After Saba received care from Samaritan’s Purse, the screening measuring tape showed the colour green indicating that she no longer suffers from malnutrition.

As a result of all the community health volunteers and Center staff did for Saba and other children like her, the village now refers to the Samaritan’s Purse medical workers as their “guardian angels.” Together, they are offering between 2,000 and 3,000 consultations each month.

Please pray for each of our staff members as they continue to extend quality care to areas that are well beyond the reach of traditional medical facilities. Ask also for God to bring lasting peace to this war-torn nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

*Name changed for security

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