‘Sometimes the baby dies, sometimes the mother’: Life and death in Yemen’s hospitals

The infant was barely breathing when his uncle brought him to the hospital in a cardboard box. He was wrapped in a blue towel, and wads of cotton were stuffed around his frail body to keep him warm.

Muhammad Haithem was just hours old, born two months premature.His mother had gone into labor when an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition hit near their home in the town of Abs. The hospital there was destroyed by an airstrike in August. So the baby’s uncle put him in a pickup truck and drove three hours to the nearest government hospital, recalled Ahlia Ashumali, a nurse who received the baby.

A week later, Muhammad was still teetering between life and death. He weighed four pounds and was being fed through tubes.

Surviving even birth is a struggle in Yemen. After nearly two years of war, thousands of children and adults have died from easily treatable diseases, illnesses and injuries as the health-care system collapses.

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