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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

The community health workers of Yemen

The community health workers of Yemen 01

“The things we learn in this programme may seem pretty basic for health workers, but I know that this knowledge and skills will make a huge difference for the people of my village!” says Maria Mohamed. She is one of the students of the training for community health workers in Taizz organised by UNICEF thanks to EU humanitarian support.

Maria is among the many community health workers who live and work in remote rural areas of Yemen, a country ravaged by 8 years of conflict. They are the ones who know the struggles and challenges their communities are facing.

During the training, they get the necessary knowledge and skills to provide qualified health care back home.

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A trainee checks a child for signs of malnutrition as part of the training course supported by UNICEF and the EU.

A very personal motivation

“I know from my own experience how beneficial this training programme is for health workers and how much it helps the people,” says Dr Abdulrahim Al Sabai, a nutrition coordinator and one of the mentors of the training program. 

The training course covers essential information about the most common and severe healthcare challenges and conditions in today's Yemen: malnutrition and health care for pregnant women, young mothers, and infants.  

The trainees learn to identify acute malnutrition, detect risk factors in pregnant women and children, and carry out immunisation. The mentors also teach them how to communicate with people and explain the importance and efficacy of vaccination and other medical procedures.   

“I know that many families still think that malnutrition is a severe disease that has no treatment,” says Dr Al Sabai. “We teach health workers to talk to those people, guide them and encourage them to start visiting health centres and treating their children.”

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Trainee Buthaina says she learns how to win people’s trust in their community.

“One of the main challenges I face in my work is convincing people to trust health workers and vaccinate their children,” says Buthaina Abdullah Al-Brihi, another student. “This course helps me a lot. Now, when people learn that I am trained by UNICEF, they will trust me more and start listening to my advice.” 

Every student comes from a tight-knit community and with personal story or experience that inspired them to become a community health worker. They all want to help their neighbours, families, and friends. 

“To be a health worker means so much to me. I can help people, save their lives and their children,” Buthaina adds.

“This course is a great advancement as I have learned so much about caring for pregnant women, detecting risk factors in children and vaccination. I am a university graduate, but here I have learned a lot of things they didn't teach us in university,” she explains.

“Not only have I learned important information,” says another trainee, “but now I can also distinguish between different types of vaccines. Transportation might be the biggest challenge for us as we all come from remote villages, but the knowledge and skills we get here are worth all the effort," she adds. 

Story by UNICEF.

Publication date: 07/04/2023