Saving lives is easy, but only if you can find the right stuff
Life in the Malnutrition Centre
- BY ALYSSA MOYNIHAN - UNICEF Wednsday, 06 February, 2019 - 12:31 AM
Life in the Malnutrition Centre

[ Doa’a is smiling and now back at home with her family, many of whom didn’t believe they’d ever see her again. ]

The faded green bricks that make up the Al-Zaidia Rural Hospital stand tall in a city where most buildings have been demolished and turned to dust. Inside is a small nutrition centre that works every day to save the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children.


For almost four years now, war has cast a shadow over the lives of millions of families in Yemen.


Oshah's - local homes made from mud and palm fronds - are on the verge of collapse and are at constant risk of being destroyed in an airstrike.


The economy is deteriorating, and Yemen’s Rial has almost completely lost its value. Many parents work hard and still struggle to provide even basic necessities for their families. Children are at risk of dying from completely preventable causes.


Amid all the destruction and violence, this small UNICEF-funded nutrition centre provides a glimmer of hope for families.


Take a Look Inside


Yemen's health system is falling apart and many hospitals have shut down. But the Al-Zaidia Rural Hospital is one of the only still running.


This means that, as one of a few small nutrition centres dotted throughout the Hodeida region, the centre means even more to the lives of at-risk children and their families.


Every day as the centre opens, the staff face mammoth tasks. Meals need to be prepared and shared. Mothers hold their small children still so that the doctors can wrap MUAC straps around their tiny arms - instantly letting them know how malnourished they are.


Many more families will arrive throughout the day, terrified and looking for help. Doctors and nurses will provide health education and free medication.


As the economic situation in Yemen worsens and the war continues, the centres provide one other very important service to local families: refuge. Here is one of the few places left in Yemen where families know where and when their next meal will come.


Small children are brought back to life here, and many lives are given a second chance.


Bringing Doa'a Back to Life


Tiny Doa’a arrived at the UNICEF-funded Therapeutic Nutrition Center with her mother, Zahra. She was suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition. Zahra was also in a critical condition - severely malnourished and therefore unable to breastfeed, while also suffering from complications with pneumonia.


Zahra is one of the 50 mothers that enter the health centre every month with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Their children are unwell, and they simply don’t have any other options to save them. In order to even reach the centre, Zahra was forced to sell her jewellery.


"We provide health education for mothers and show them how to prepare some meals, how they can avoid relapse," Dr. Dhia Al-Haq Al-Omari, a doctor at the center, says, “we also provide supplementary food for children until they reach the required weight and keep in touch with the families.”


Against her family’s worst fears, little Doa’a improved after six weeks - an incredible 92 per cent of malnourished children do once they receive the treatment.


Faced with the expensive return trip, the centre even took care of getting Doa’a and Zahra back to their family home which is over an hour away by road.


It is enough for me that my daughter returned to the house alive and that she smiles and laughs,” Doa’a’s father said.


Stand by Children like Doa'a


UNICEF works hard for children every single day, even when many others have left them behind.


But did you know that nutrition centres like the one in the Al-Zaidia Rural Hospital are entirely funded by supporters, just like you?


Our Global Parents are making a difference in the lives of these children. Global Parents are the people who take care of the children and families who others have forgotten.


Please consider joining our growing family of Global Parents, and you will help children just like Doa’a return from the brink of starvation. Choose to create a world where no child is left to starve, simply because of war, conflict or displacement.

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