Providing lifesaving care during conflict

Monday, 14 Dec 2015
Since the end of 2014 Yemen has been in a period of increased unrest, with the country pushed to the brink of civil war.

The conflict has destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure including many health facilities. It has left the country with no clear government and has seriously affected its economy. More than 50% of people have lost their jobs, and with the increase in the cost of food and fuel, it has pushed most of the population to below the poverty line.

Despite the conflict, Options has been working with the Yamaan Foundation for Health and Social Development since April 2013, implementing a reproductive health voucher programme, covering a population of over 1 million people in the governorates of Lahj and Ibb.

The Director General for Health from Lahj said; “This is the first programme which I have seen which has a direct impact in my governorate, by assisting poor people to actually access health facilities”. 

Working through local NGOs the programme distributes vouchers to pregnant women and those with an unmet need for family planning. These vouchers are redeemable at over 113 public and private health facilities that have been quality assessed and recruited in the voucher programme. They provide access to a full range of safe motherhood services (including transport to and from the health care facility for delivery and accommodation for a companion) and to modern methods of family planning – particularly long acting and permanent methods (LAPM).

Health facilities that provide these services submit the vouchers to the programme administrators (Yamaan) who, once claims have been checked for validity, pay an agreed fee for each service provided.

The conflict has meant many of the health facilities in the area in which the voucher programme is operating have closed for extended periods in 2015 or been unable to access funds from the central government. However, women in need of emergency obstetric care have been able to use their voucher to travel to areas away from their communities which are still operating. The programme has continued to pay funds to the health facilities (both public can private) which has enabled them to continue providing services to clients and to invest in equipment and supplies which benefit not only reproductive health but the wider health system.

Dr Eman, Options’ Project Director, said; “If the voucher programme didn’t exist, poor women would not be able to afford the cost of services at a private facility, and many would die with due to complications at home.”

Income from the programme has also allowed the district and governorate health officers to continue to conduct monitoring visits and purchase contraceptive supplies to fill stock outs.

Up to May 2015, the voucher programme has enabled:

  • 25,513 antenatal visits
  • 2,531 caesarean sections
  • 18,037 safe deliveries

Find out more about the programme here.

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