Editor's note: This news column showcases stories from around the world that bring a touch of positivity to the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
A newly opened treatment center has begun receiving coronavirus patients in the southern Yemeni city of Aden. And while the facility has just 60 beds, it offers a glimmer of hope to people in a war-torn country lacking medical resources.
Set within the Al Joumhouriya hospital in Aden, the facility is equipped with an X-ray room, a high-dependency unit, care wards, a triage area, and a laboratory. Tons of medical supplies and equipment have been brought in under the supervision of an international medical team.
The COVID-19 center, opened on Sept 20, is a joint effort from the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, the Norwegian Red Cross and the Finnish Red Cross, with the support of the Yemen Red Crescent Society, or YRCS.
More than 100 locally hired Yemenis and 20 international medical and technical staff are working at the center.
Additionally, patients from rural areas can be transferred to the center through a referral system set up by the ICRC in coordination with other healthcare providers.
The country had reported 2,055 cases of the coronavirus, with 596 deaths, as of Sunday, according to the World Health Organization.
"There are too few facilities that can treat COVID-19 in southern Yemen. In the event of continued cases, this new center can provide help," said Alexandre Equey, the head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen.
When COVID-19 hit Aden hard a few months ago, Equey said many hospitals shut their doors.
"People could not afford medicine, and other infectious diseases resurfaced. When people contract COVID-19, they must have a place they can go for medical assistance," he said.
Free medical services
In the newly opened center, the medical services are free, and patients can communicate with their family members while receiving treatment.
Over the years, more than half of Yemen's healthcare facilities have been shuttered due to wars and other conflicts, putting medical care out of reach for too many residents. A lack of medical supplies has also contributed to the closure of medical facilities.
The health system has been struggling to provide basic care for hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been threatened by potentially curable diseases, malnutrition and war-related wounds.
A lack of electricity, fuel and a high level of inflation that makes food, medicine and other basic goods almost unaffordable for most Yemenis have all combined to make life extremely difficult.
"It is hard to think of a people in a more difficult situation than that of the Yemenis," said Kristiina Kumpula, secretary-general of the Finnish Red Cross. "Millions of people are already suffering from conflict, food insecurity and a weakened health system.
"We hope that this center helps them survive this global pandemic with the least damage possible."
Against this backdrop, volunteers are also racing against the clock to counter the COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen, according to Fouad Al Makhithy, secretary-general of the YRCS.
The ICRC, YRCS and other Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies have been responding to the pandemic across Yemen, providing personal protective equipment, medical supplies, food, and hygiene materials on a regular basis to hospitals and isolation centers.