It's a five-hour journey over rugged roads to reach the health center nearest to Bait Essa, a town nestled in the mountains of Yemen's Amran governate. "Services like syringe injections, first aid and health care are far away from us," says 23-year-old Saba Muhammad Essa, a UNICEF-supported community health worker. "The patient would arrive at the hospital dead."
Every day, Saba travels into the countryside on foot, going door-to-door to bring urgently needed health care to children and families cut off from vital services after more than five years of brutal civil war. She screens children for malnutrition and refers them for treatment, and conducts socially distant COVID-19 awareness sessions, teaching families proper handwashing and hygiene techniques.
"My duty requires me to educate my community on how to follow the basic precautions to avoid being infected by the coronavirus," she says proudly. "I feel there is positive feedback because I serve my country and society."
"People are frightened about the virus. Everyone around the world is scared," says Saba. "So how about Yemeni people who are already facing so many difficulties in their lives? My message to the world is to stop the war in Yemen. Yemen has suffered enough. We want support for doctors and health workers."
As of June 2020, UNICEF's $479 million appeal to sustain basic essential services for children in Yemen was only 38 percent funded. Urgent support is needed to keep UNICEF's essential programs up and running.