Transforming Lives: Empowering Communities through Maternal and Child Health Initiatives in Yemen
August 18th, 2023 | story
August 18th, 2023 | story
In the midst of the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the USAID-funded Systems Health and Resiliency Project (SHARP), led by JSI, made significant strides in a health emergency context over the past four years. By focusing on maternal and child health services in 14 districts—especially hard-to-reach communities—in Aden, Ta’izz, and Lahj governments, SHARP touched the lives of more than 1.8 million Yemeni people with activities to improve their health. Through an integrated health systems strengthening approach tailored to the unpredictable environment in Yemen due to the conflict and other disasters, the project trained and partnered with community midwives, reproductive health volunteers, health facility workers, and community members in facilities, schools, homes, mosques, and other communal spaces to provide essential health care and support.
This work was presented during a project learning event in Aden on August 17. The event convened stakeholders, including Dr. Salim Al-Shabahi, deputy minister for the population sector from the Ministry of Public Health and Population, and Kimberlee Bell, the USAID Yemen country director, to celebrate and share valuable insights.
Throughout its implementation, SHARP worked with communities, health facilities, the Ministry of Public Health and Population, local authorities, and partners National Yemeni Midwives Association, Yemen Family Care Association, and Search for Common Ground. This collaboration led to the achievement of several milestones:
The project aligned efforts with local health restoration initiatives outlined in the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, working closely with USAID and various partners, including local authorities, the Health Cluster, United Nations agencies, and the World Bank. This concerted effort allowed SHARP to reach vulnerable mothers and newborns, despite adversity.
Kimberlee Bell, the USAID Yemen Country Director, acknowledged the achievements of the project’s collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Public Health and Population. “Our project has built a strong partnership with communities, health facilities, districts and governorates to respond to the health needs of the Yemeni population. Local leadership and involvement every step of the way have been the key for sustainability of the project’s work. Health programs and community involvement in southern Yemen are now stronger and more resilient, and communities have better access to quality health care services.
A vital component of SHARP’s legacy was the establishment of conflict resolution committees across nine districts. These committees, comprising community mediators, council representatives, and local leaders, strengthened health system security by swiftly diffusing conflicts that could disrupt health care service delivery.
JSI’s commitment to Yemen since 1988 has advanced child health, routine immunization, supply chain strengthening, and reproductive, maternal, and newborn health. SHARP’s legacy will continue to inspire and transform lives for generations to come.