ABU DHABI, 30th June, 2020 (WAM) – In a second report on the development assistance given by the UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation to the remote Yemeni island of Socotra, WAM examines aid for the island’s education and health services.
One of the major challenges for Socotra’s development has been the lack of development in the educational sector, while three major cyclones, two in 2015 and one in 2018, had a severe impact on the existing infrastructure.
Recognising the need for improvement in the educational opportunities available for young Socotris, both in the capital, Hadibu, and elsewhere, the Sheikh Khalifa Foundation has devoted considerable effort to rehabilitating and upgrading existing facilities, as well as developing a higher education sector.
Existing schools have been repaired and developed, with new classrooms being built. Over 400 teachers have been hired, some being recruited from elsewhere in Yemen, particularly for science-based subjects, where there was previously a shortage.
In remote areas, a fleet of buses provided by the Sheikh Khalifa Foundation also takes children to and from school.
Over 220,000 schoolbooks have been produced and distributed to students, while uniforms have also been provided for students in both primary and secondary schools.
Teachers and textbooks have also been provided for schools on Abd El Kuri and Samha, two smaller islands to the west of Socotra island.
Two existing institutes offering higher vocational education, the College of Education and the Community College, have been upgraded while a new Consultancy and Training Institute has been established in Hadibu, to equip students for future careers.
One recent innovation has been the establishment of the Socotra International University, which will commence operations later this year with a faculty of engineering and a college of computers and information systems.
Over 800 students, both male and female, have so far benefited from the new opportunities available in higher education, with help also being provided to help them find employment after graduation.
Looking ahead, work is under way on the establishment of a major Zayed University Complex, which will include both schools and facilities for higher education.
Meanwhile, a scholarship programme has seen 110 students, both male and female, being selected for studies at the UAE University and in Egypt. For those pursuing studies in the UAE, both they and their families have been provided with local residence visas. A further 220 students have been given scholarships and other forms of financial support to enable them to study at universities in other parts of Yemen.
In terms of health, a key focus of attention has been on the expansion of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Hospital in Hadibu, originally opened before the outbreak of conflict in mainland Yemen.
A building for emergency care with two operating rooms and 13 beds has been constructed, which has so far dealt with over 6,000 patients, while overall the number of beds for in-patients has been expanded to 42. Over 5,800 in-patients can now be treated on an annual basis.
Until recently, patients needing kidney dialysis had to travel outside Socotra for treatment, now a kidney unit with five dialysis machines has been installed.
Doctors and nurses qualified in a wider range of specialisms have been recruited, with the hospital now able to provide services relating to ophthalmology, orthopaedics, urology and gynaecology, as well as general surgery. Other doctors have been brought to Socotra on a short-term basis, to provide specialist treatment, in fields such as eye surgery, diabetes, glandular disorders, face and jaw surgery, removal of tumours and congenital abnormalities. In all, well over 2,000 operations have been carried out.
Over 200,000 individual medical services, including radio-therapy, provision of medicines and laboratory tests, have been delivered for around 140,000 people, including both in-patients and out-patients.
Outside Hadibu, a mobile clinic programme has provided services to nearly 4,000 patients in remote villages. The clinic in the town of Qarya has been rehabilitated with work under way on 20 other small local health centres.
Recognising that prevention of disease is essential, an immunisation programme has been launched in collaboration with the Worlds Health Organisation, WHO, for mothers and children. So far, over 5300 children have been given vaccination against various diseases, both on the island of Socotra itself and also on Abd El Kuri and Samha.
Looking to the future, a new hospital for mothers and children, the Umm Al Emarat Hospital, is currently under construction.