Safety is a constant concern for Yemeni and international health practitioners across the country. When violence affects hospitals, medical staff and patients, facilities become seen by the population as unreliable in terms of their personal security, leading to reduced levels of frequentation and adding constraints and indirect barriers on health-seeking behavior.
On the occasion of a public seminar co-hosted by the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population on March 13, 2013 at the Faculty of Medicine of Sana’a University, MédecinsSans Frontières(MSF) has undertaken a review of violent incidents it has faced in and around health facilities in which it has been operating since April 2010.
“There is a strong need to respect the sanctity of health facilities. MSF is working hard to raise awareness across a wide array of stakeholders from local populations to ministries in Sana’a on the problematic incidents it has observed while running its activities,” said MSF Operations Manager, Dr. Chiara Lepora.
“It is only with the support of authorities at national, governorate and local levels and a general recognition by non-state armed groups, tribal forces and individual communities of the neutrality and non-political nature of health facilities, staff and patients that we will be able to safely deliver emergency healthcare to those in need”, she added.
MSF calls on all parties in Yemen to adhere to the principles of Islamic, tribal, and international legal frameworks that guarantee the neutrality, the respect, and the protection of health care facilities, their personnel and patients. When the safety of patients, medical staff or health facilities is at risk, it is the provision of healthcare itself that is impacted and it is entire communities that run the risk to be left without much-needed treatment.
MSF began working in Yemen 1986. In addition to working in the governorates of Aden, Ad-Dhale, and Abyan, MSF carries out surgical and medical activities in the governorates of Amran and Hajjah in the north of the country. MSF does not accept funding from any government for its work in Yemen; it relies solely on private donations.
MSF is a private international humanitarian organization providing emergency medical aid in more than 65 countries worldwide to populations that suffer from the effects of armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.