Emaciated Yemeni woman now smiles but recovery patchy

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SANAA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Images of 18-year-old Saida Ahmad Baghili's emaciated body shocked the world and turned a spotlight on the worsening humanitarian crisis across war-torn Yemen.

Now, after weeks of specialist hospital care in the capital Sanaa, though she can still barely speak and sometimes finds eating more difficult than ever, she can at least smile.

SEE EARLIER: A picture and its story: Severe malnutrition in Yemen

Nearly two years of war between a Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement has deepened the plight of Baghili's family and millions of other Yemenis.

In her parched village on the Red Sea coast, impoverished residents have long struggled to put food on the table.

13 PHOTOS
Emaciated woman now able to smile after care
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Emaciated woman now able to smile after care
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, stands on a scale at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, sits with a doctor on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, drinks water as she sits with a nurse on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, rests on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, lies on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital where she receives treatment for severe malnutrition in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, stands on a scale at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, stands on a height measuring scale at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, sits with her father at a hotel in Sanaa, Yemen December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who is affected by severe malnutrition, sits on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, sits with her father at a hotel in Sanaa, Yemen December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, walks with a nurse and a relative at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who has been affected by severe malnutrition, sits at a hotel in Sanaa, Yemen December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "SAIDA YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Doctors believe her condition - which began several years before the war began - has damaged her throat and, when her family first brought her to a regional hospital in October, she could barely keep her eyes open or stand.

"We admitted Saida to find out the cause of her inability to eat and it's clear that she suffers from severe malnutrition," Doctor Wasfi al-Zakari of Sanaa's al-Thawra hospital said.

"Her health remains chronic, and her bones remain fragile due to stunted growth. In all likelihood, they will never return to normal," he said.

Her father Ahmed, who is staying nearby to be with his daughter, says her weight has reached 16 kg (35 pounds), five kilos more than when she was first admitted to hospital.

"But she doesn't eat anything except liquid medical food. She used to drink juice and milk with bananas but now she can't ... we don't know when she'll recover."

Even before the onset of the conflict in March 2015, Yemen was suffering a humanitarian crisis including widespread hunger which was brought on by decades of poverty and internal strife.

About half of Yemen's 28 million people are "food insecure," according to the United Nations, and 7 million of them do not know where they will get their next meal.

21 PHOTOS
Yemeni children emaciated, victims of food shortages among war
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Yemeni children emaciated, victims of food shortages among war
A malnourished boy lies on a bed outside his family's hut in al-Tuhaita district of the Red Sea province of Hodaida, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A girl carries her sister at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An eight-year-old malnourished boy lies on a bed in the emergency ward of a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Salem Abdullah Musabih, 6, is held by his mother as she sits on a bed at a malnutrition intensive care unit at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, Yemen September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A nurse checks a boy at a hospital intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Salem Abdullah Musabih, 6, lies on a bed at a malnutrition intensive care unit at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, Yemen September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A drip is connected to a child at a malnutrition intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Salem Abdullah Musabih, 6, sits on a bed at a malnutrition intensive care unit at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, Yemen September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Women sit with their children at a malnutrition intensive care unit at a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodaida, Yemen September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A corridor is seen in a malnutrition intensive care unit at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man shows food vouchers, which a community leader said are counterfeit, at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A woman holds her malnourished boy after he was weighed at a hospital malnutrition intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A malnourished boy holds an empty milk bottle at a hospital malnutrition intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A boy cries at a hospital malnutrition intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A child lies in a hospital intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Food is cooked inside a tent at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A family eat breakfast outside their hut at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman holds her child at the door of her hut in al-Tuhaita district of the Red Sea province of Hodaida, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A boy holds a kettle as he walks outside his family's hut at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A girl stands at her family's hut at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sanaa, Yemen September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SEARCH "FAMINE YEMEN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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