“The major problem Yemen is facing is understaffed medical centers,” said a representative of DWF.
Salah Draghma, the general representative for Doctors of the World-France in Yemen (DWF), said several medical centers in Sana’a are understaffed and have inadequate medicine supplies.
He added that DWF, first established in Yemen in 2007, works in cooperation with officials to aid in providing medical support for people in the country. Ahmed Dawood of the Yemen Times met with Draghma and conducted the following interview.
Could you give us some information about DWF?
The organization is present in 60 countries worldwide. We work to make health services accessible, especially for the needy. We strive to provide these services by partnering with local government and civil organizations.
When did you start working in Yemen? What are the most significant projects achieved?
We started working in Yemen in 2007. We work to support people through medical services. Our projects focus mainly on primary medical services including caring for pregnant women and children. We also provide food support and medical testing. We endeavor to give people access to these services easily and free of charge. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Population we executed projects in several governorates nationwide by supporting repair on medical centers, clinics and mobile medical teams. Over the past few years, we’ve worked in Hajja, Al-Mahweet, Sa’ada and Sana’a.
Are patients sometimes required to pay for services in your medical centers?
Yes they are, as the centers attempt to cover operating costs. This is in keeping with the general policy of the Ministry of Health and Population regarding these centers; however, they operate as non-profits.
As you’re familiar with medical centers in Yemen, what do these centers lack?
As an international organization, I concentrate on the medical staff and their reasons for going into the healthcare industry. The morale of personnel regarding work leave something to be desired due to numerous circumstances physicians face in Yemen. We work with the Ministry of Health and Population to boost morale in the staff.
It can be said that the major problem the local community is experiencing in Yemen is the shortage of specialized doctors in public medical centers or clinics. Private doctors are too expensive for lower-income people.
When medical centers fall short in supplies of medicines; the organization tries to cover these needs in accordance with our resources.
Medical centers often lack essential medical equipment because of the high cost. For instance the Ministry of Health and Population could not provide essential equipment to examine pregnant women. It is difficult for a doctor to diagnose an illness without medical tests.
Three months ago, you launched a project aimed at backing the medical centers in the Shoob and Al-Thwra districts in the capital city of Sana’a. What progress has been made?
I believe we have achieved 80 percent of the objectives. 20,000 patients have been reached by these centers the past three months. This is a great achievement.
Why only the Shoob and Al-Thwra districts?
Because of last year’s turmoil, these and other areas sustained considerable damage. People didn’t have access to medical services, doctors or medicines. When we received support and funding from the Ministry of Health and Population and the city of Sana’a, we started re-opening medical facilities. We provided fundamental things so they could start operating. We covered the operating costs and provided fuel, water and electricity.
What future projects do you intend to implement in Yemen?
After Ramadan we will launch a new project to improve psychological and reproductive health and nutrition. It will be a long-term project. It will occur over three phases. The first phase will depend on private funding from DWF. The second and third phases will target areas outside the capital city. I hope people will talk about the subject of psychological health without worrying about facilities two or three years from now.
I’d like to affirm here that this work requires cooperation from all sectors; from the organization, its partners, the Ministry of Health and Population and from private organizations so the project will be comprehensive and cover all people.