Watch: ‘Children shouldn’t have to face these diseases or even this war’ – Dr Hodeish

‘Children should not have to suffer from diseases like this or face the psychological impact of this war,’ Dr Hamoud Hodeish, a Paediatric Oncologist at the National Oncology Centre in Sana’a, tells the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Dr Hodeish explains that every year the Centre receives around 400 new cases of children with cancer, but at the current capacity, they are unable to cope with the demand and don’t have the equipment or therapies to adequately help their patients.

‘The centre is facing a lot of problems which include a lack of medical drugs, capacities and types of treatments. Here we have no radiotherapy treatment. Our radiotherapy machines have already collapsed. The National Oncology Centre is the only centre for cancer patients in Yemen. We cannot treat patients who need chemotherapy because of the current situation.’

The voices of dead Yemenis

The interview with Dr Hodeish comes as the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International, have both been working to end the three year air blockade of Yemen’s Sana’a International airport and airspace.

The blockade has effectively stopped key medical equipment and drugs from entering the country, resulting in around 32,000 sick Yemenis dying in the last three years.

In previous stories covered by, NRC managed to speak with sick Yemenis and the relatives of late ones who had passed away, unable to get treatment for their illnesses.

In the previous entry, Newsbook covered the story of the late Mohammed Al Kayal, whom had been paralysed after an operation to remove a cancerous tumour from his back. His mother explained how they had tried to take him out of the country but he refused to make the journey. Likewise the 47 year old father of 6, Abdo Ahmen Mohammed Qassem died after being unable to seek proper treatment for his liver disease.

Read more:

Watch: ‘Please take care of my kids, I don’t want them to suffer’

Watch: ‘Patients have given up, even ones who can pay’ – Yemen liver patient

Calls for Yemen Airport to reopen, ‘to prevent more sick people dying’

He had explained that it had become so difficult to leave the country that even people with money, were giving up.

Dr Hamoud Hodeish, Paediatric Oncologist
Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC

It’s impossible to travel long distances

As with the two Yemenis spoken to about their conditions, the doctor explained that it has become impossible for people who are critically ill to make the long distances to different airports in order to reach a country for treatment.

This is a point that both the Yemenis interviewed and the NGOs have raised about alternative ways of seeking treatment. In some cases, Yemenis have to seek special permits to fly out of the country, with no guarantee that they will actually be allowed to.

‘In Yemen there are many airports Aden Airport, Seiyun, Sana’a, Taiz and Hodeidah airport. There are many difficulties to travel to Aden or Seiyun. For patients who are critically ill, it is impossible to travel long distances. They might die on their trip to the airport. For some cancer patients, it is difficult for them to go to Sana’a airport, so how can they make it to Aden or Seiyun. This is a big problem for patients.’