By Jennifer O’Riordan

Children, pregnant women and new mothers are among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to healthcare deficiencies in Yemen.

Unfortunately, the infant mortality rate in the country currently stands at 57 in every 1000 births, according to World Bank figures, which puts it closer to its African neighbors of Eritrea (42) and Djibouti (73), rather than its Arab neighbors Oman (8) or Saudi Arabia (15).

Counterpart’s Responsive Governance Project (RGP) in Yemen has undertaken a series of initiatives to improve the situation for them.

RGP brought together national civil society organizations, maternal health associations, academics and healthcare specialists Jan. 28 for a major introductory workshop on adopting new policies in the areas of maternal and child health.

“Maternal mortality is still very high in Yemen,” Dr. Jamila Alraabi, who is the Deputy Minister of Yemen’s Ministry of Health, told the audience. “Seven women are dying every day from pregnancy and childbirth. Over 90 percent of these deaths are preventable.”

The aim of the event was to discuss and promote state policies that will offer much-needed free childbirth, family planning and emergency obstetric services.

These policies are a vital stepping stone in improving the overall standard of maternal and child health in Yemen, and of course in reducing the country’s high infant and maternal mortality rates.

The workshop took place as part of RGP’s Yemen Advocacy Program, which will continue to support the stakeholders in urging decision makers to enact a national law that will improve emergency obstetric services throughout Yemen.

Through RGP, Counterpart is working side-by-side with the local government and civil society organizations to strengthen these institutions and improve the level of public service delivery across many different areas.

The five-year project encourages civic participation, strengthens the capacity of government institutions to meet citizen’s needs and works with local civil society organizations to ensure that they are strong enough to channel the voices of the people they represent.