Key Yemen Hospital On the Brink of Closure as Airstrikes Intensify On Sana’a

Ali*, 4 months old, is suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition and has been admitted into the Outpatient Therapeutic Programme at Sabeen Hospital in Sana'a. Photo: Mark Kaye / Save the Children

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SANA’A, Yemen (August 30, 2015) — Staff at a hospital which now serves an estimated 3 million people in and around the Yemeni capital of Sana’a has told Save the Children that it faces imminent closure, putting the lives of thousands of children significantly at risk.

Critical fuel shortages and a lack of medical supplies could force the Al Sabeen Hospital to shut its doors within 48 hours, even as airstrikes on Sana’a by the Saudi-led coalition intensify.

The hospital, which Save the Children supports, is the main healthcare facility for children and pregnant women in the area. Before the crisis it was reliant on Hodeida port for 90 percent of its imports, but since the beginning of a de-facto blockade on the country, supplies have dried up.

Al Sabeen’s Deputy Manager, Halel Al Bahri, said the hospital had entirely run out of IV fluid, anesthetic, blood transfusion tests, Valium to treat seizures and ready-prepared therapeutic food for severely malnourished children.

Even more worryingly, they only have enough black market fuel to run the electricity generators for another two days. Should they be forced to close hundreds of children currently admitted will stop receiving treatment.

“We are coordinating closely with the other functioning hospitals in the city, sharing our stocks so that everyone has a bit of everything. But everyone is running low now and there isn’t enough to go around,” said Halel Al Bahri.

“The situation is absolutely critical. We don’t have time to wait for stocks and fuel to come in. If this hospital closes, children and women will die. The numbers of those who die will be much higher than those being killed by the bombs and the fighting,” Al Bahri added.

Across Yemen, 15.2 million are lacking access to basic health care, an increase of 40 percent since March. More than half a million children are expected to suffer severe acute malnutrition this year, and there has been a 150 percent increase in hospital admissions for malnutrition since March.

Civilians are paying the price for the war in Yemen, which over the course of five months has plunged the country into a devastating humanitarian crisis,” said Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen.

“The ongoing violence and de-facto blockade means we are struggling to get sufficient aid to those who need it most. The closure of Al Sabeen Hospital would be absolutely devastating for children in Sana’a and the surrounding areas and it’s just the tip of the iceberg, with hundreds of hospitals and health facilities in Yemen shut or running limited services.”

“It’s crucial that enough medicines, supplies and fuel are able to get in to the country, otherwise the number of children dying from treatable illnesses is only going to get bigger,” said Santiago.

*Name has been changed to protect the child's identity. 

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