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Kristy Smithson Riniker

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Women’s Health in Yemen: Factors Influencing Maternal and Infant Health, Fertility Rates, the Public Health Care System, Education, and Globalization

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Women in Yemen face numerous obstacles to education, self-sufficiency, and health care. Infant and maternal mortality rates are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and multiple disparities exist along economic, rural-urban, and educational divides. Women in Yemen tend to marry young and have high fertility rates. Many structural barriers to health care exist due to poor infrastructure and government corruption. One of the poorest countries in the Middle East, Yemen has a complex political, cultural and religious history which influences the current state of women’s health. I lived, worked and studied in Sana‘a, Yemen for a year and a half from 2008-2010, throughout which time I volunteered at several different women’s clinics and hospitals. I observed doctor-patient interactions and talked to both international and Yemeni health care workers and local women about their views on women’s health in Yemen. These experiences guided me in my research into local and international aid organizations. The purpose of this paper is to describe the primary health care issues experienced by women in Yemen, identify some of the major organizations that provide health care for women and describe a few of their projects that address women’s health, as well as discuss the primary cross-cultural issues encountered by international aid workers.

Women’s Health in Yemen: Factors Influencing Maternal and Infant Health, Fertility Rates, the Public Health Care System, Education, and Globalization

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Women's Health in Yemen

Women in Yemen face numerous obstacles to education, self-sufficiency, and health care. Infant and maternal mortality rates are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and multiple disparities exist along economic, rural-urban, and educational divides. Women in Yemen tend to marry young and have high fertility rates. Many structural barriers to health care exist due to poor infrastructure and government corruption. One of the poorest countries in the Middle East, Yemen has a complex political, cultural and religious history which influences the current state of women’s health. I lived, worked and studied in Sana‘a, Yemen for a year and a half from 2008-2010, throughout which time I volunteered at several different women’s clinics and hospitals. I observed doctor-patient interactions and talked to both international and Yemeni health care workers and local women about their views on women’s health in Yemen. These experiences guided me in my research into local and international aid organizations. The purpose of this paper is to describe the primary health care issues experienced by women in Yemen, identify some of the major organizations that provide health care for women and describe a few of their projects that address women’s health, as well as discuss the primary cross-cultural issues encountered by international aid workers.

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