UAE intensifies role in improving Socotra’s health system

A senior Emirati medical team arrived on the Yemeni island last week to inaugurate a new emergency centre

Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Socotra. (Photo Courtesy-Sheikh Khalifa Foundation)
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The UAE has intensified its humanitarian role on Socotra to improve the conditions for residents of the Yemeni island, providing support for the reconstruction of its deteriorating infrastructure and promoting the education and health sectors as top priorities.

The Emirates Red Crescent and the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation have been crucial to the efforts, according to officials on the island.

A senior medical team from the UAE, joined by a Khalifa Foundation official, travelled to the island last Thursday to inaugurate a new emergency centre in the Sheikh Khalifa public hospital, the main public medical facility on the island, Dr Saed Amer, the manager of medical services on Socotra, told The National.

Khalifa Hospital was built in 2012 by the Khalifa Foundation. It includes 50 hospital beds and two rooms for major and minor operations, a maternity room, a high-tech laboratory, an intensive care unit and wards for infants.

“The high ranking UAE medical team provided new high tech equipment for the hospital, including equipment allocated for the dialysis department in the hospital,” Mr Amer added.

“The situation of the health sector has witnessed a rapid development in the last three years due to the brotherly efforts exerted by our brothers in the UAE government which did not spare any effort to provide us with all the medical needs to promote the health situation in the Island,” he continued.

He said the improvements were the reconstruction of the main public hospital and other health care centers, in addition to hiring professional staff workers, providing necessary medicines and dispatching patients who required treatment abroad to hospitals in the UAE.

There are 24 medical facilities in Socotra, including its two main hospitals, along with medical centres and health care units distributed across the island.

Citizens on the island told The National that the UAE’s interventions in the health sector have alleviated their suffering, especially those who suffer from chronic illnesses.

“I can’t explain the suffering we were living in before the UAE come to stand by us,” says Salem, whose brother suffered from kidney failure but had to rent a property in mainland Yemen for regular dialysis.

“All of the sick people with kidney failure have been traveling in Aden or Mukallah to have regular dialysis,” he said. “[They] have come back home since the UAE equipped a unit for the dialysis in Khalifa hospital.”

Nadhim bin Kablan, a civil activist in Socotra, told The National that before the UAE started to fund the island’s medical centres, the main public hospital had little equipment and that mothers and some infants had died because of a lack of incubators.