“I always put myself in the place of the people who I am helping now. I always think that they should get the best support I can give,” says Monia, during a field visit to Al Madaribah.
Monia supervises the Community Health Volunteers in Al Madaribah where the joint World Vision and Medair project provides health and nutrition services. The project, funded by World Vision and Germany’s Aktion Deutschland Hilft e.V., and implemented by Medair, supports the operational costs of the health facilities and the training and supervision of the staff. This is to ensure that they provide high-quality treatment to the people in their vicinity, especially vulnerable malnourished children, and pregnant and lactating women.
Community Health Volunteers play an essential role in nutrition treatment. Through the joint project, World Vision and Medair support community health volunteers to reach the most remote areas and identify people with malnutrition to ensure that they receive treatment at the health facilities. The community health volunteers visit people in their homes and are trained to identify cases of malnutrition by measuring the mid-upper arm circumference of women and children. ‘Outreach activities were also recently started. Once a week, a team from the health facilities visit the most remote communities to treat the people who otherwise cannot receive medical treatment.
These community activities have increased awareness of the services, as well as educated the communities on how to stay healthy, and prevent disease and malnutrition. Building strong relationships with the community, Monia and her colleagues reduced resistance to get nutrition services.
“I tell people not to be shy, we are here to help you and we must help each other. They see our behaviors and the way we treat people, and they learn to trust us and accept the messages we carry”.
“Often, they start with one child, and the next time they bring more children. Then they tell other people in their village to come. When I heard this from one of my community health volunteers, I remembered how hard it was to communicate with the people and now the people themselves are helping us to build a strong healthy community”.
Since the project began in April 21, 2021 a total of 2,044 children under five years old have been screened for acute malnutrition, with 489 being admitted to the supported health facilities for treatment.
Families in Yemen face many challenges in staying healthy and avoiding malnutrition. One of the most significant factors is that families struggle to afford a balanced diet for healthy children. The community and the health staff report that the average income of a family rarely exceeds US$ 40 a month. As this project aims to provide life-saving support, the Community Health Volunteers help people to understand how to identify food that has the most important ingredients for necessary nutrition and encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies to insure proper growth of their children.
The economic challenges also mean that families may not have enough money to pay transportation to reach the health facilities when they are sick. Some children, however, may require intensive treatment for their malnutrition and are referred to a hospital that has a ‘stabilisation centre’. As this hospital is located far away than the health facilities, World Vision and Medair support these families with transportation when their child requires hospitalisation.