Every day as the centre opens, the staff face mammoth tasks. Meals need to be prepared and shared. Mothers hold their small children still so that the doctors can wrap MUAC straps around their tiny arms - instantly letting them know how malnourished they are.
Many more families will arrive throughout the day, terrified and looking for help. Doctors and nurses will provide health education and free medication.
As the economic situation in Yemen worsens and the war continues, the centres provide one other very important service to local families: refuge. Here is one of the few places left in Yemen where families know where and when their next meal will come.
Small children are brought back to life here, and many lives are given a second chance.
Bringing Doa'a Back to Life
Tiny Doa’a arrived at the UNICEF-funded Therapeutic Nutrition Center with her mother, Zahra. She was suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition. Zahra was also in a critical condition - severely malnourished and therefore unable to breastfeed, while also suffering from complications with pneumonia.
I was doubtful that Doa’a would return home.
Zahra is one of the 50 mothers that enter the health centre every month with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Their children are unwell, and they simply don’t have any other options to save them. In order to even reach the centre, Zahra was forced to sell her jewellery.
"We provide health education for mothers and show them how to prepare some meals, how they can avoid relapse," Dr. Dhia Al-Haq Al-Omari, a doctor at the center, says, “we also provide supplementary food for children until they reach the required weight and keep in touch with the families.”
Against her family’s worst fears, little Doa’a improved after six weeks - an incredible 92 per cent of malnourished children do once they receive the treatment.
Faced with the expensive return trip, the centre even took care of getting Doa’a and Zahra back to their family home which is over an hour away by road.