News and reports – It could turn into an unspeakable catastrophe … Yemen is preparing for an outbreak of the Corona virus


The health system in Yemen is in a state of collapse, leaving the country unable to cope with the spread of the Coruna virus.Shallal Hasel, a doctor in charge of the Epidemiological Surveillance Department in Lahj governorate, used to his job to monitor a cholera outbreak, but he is now working around the clock to make sure Yemen is ready to face Covid-19 disease.

Although he is young in his thirties, despair is clear.

“The deteriorating state of the health system in Yemen – especially after conflict and war, will unfold,” Shallal said. “Hospitals here are limited and lack the equipment to receive people living with HIV.”

Shallal demonstrated his words in a number of photos, in which doctors wore sloppy jackets and primitive silences.

“We lack the appropriate personal protective equipment,” Shallal added. “Rapid response teams were trained to handle cases of Covid-19, but they did not have personal protective equipment. The World Health Organization must fill this gap.”

The World Health Organization is helping supply 37 of what it calls “isolation centers” with medical equipment and crews in Yemen. Some of these centers were health facilities and were retrofitted, while others were old buildings converted into temporary hospitals. But there are also other deficiencies, according to Shallal.

“We do not have infrared thermometers; there is also a lack of analytical instruments for diagnosis; there is not even an ambulance to transport suspected cases.”

“Fear appears on the faces”

The World Health Organization says that all of Yemen has only four laboratories to carry out HIV tests. And the fifth lab is on the way to be ready.

Muhammad al-Shamaa of Save the Children is also concerned about the state of hospitals in Yemen, of which only half are operating due to the war.

“You can see the fear visible on the faces of the doctors,” Al-Shamaa said. “We have some doctors in one or two hospitals who have removed normal respiratory conditions for fear of being infected with the Corona virus because these doctors do not have adequate preventive equipment.”

Yemen currently has only 208 ventilators, and the country is expected to wait for 417 more. And oh the distance between this situation and its counterpart in developed countries where there are thousands of these devices.

Tamuna Sabadze, of the International Rescue Committee, says the most likely scenario is that more than 18,000 super care beds will be required.

“Even if you get a respirator, it will not be possible to operate because of the blackout and the absence of a generator, and even if there is no fuel to operate it.”

Crowded places

Until now, Yemen is lucky; cases of infection are still few.

The first case was in the southern province of Hadhramaut. Five more cases were confirmed in Aden, according to the emergency committee set up to monitor the epidemic.

As well as a lack of capabilities, there is concern about public health awareness – or rather the lack of it.

In light of the exhaustion suffered by the Yemeni government due to the war, there are no such strong preventive messages on the part of the authorities as other countries.

Much of the issue is related to culture, according to Doctor Shalal.

“Yemenis gather in crowds, markets are crowded, streets are narrow, and even hospitals are crowded with people. All of this hinders the implementation of social divergence measures.”

Then there is the porous boundary problem. “In Yemen, there are many African migrants illegally, and these pose a public health threat if they are not subject to screening or monitoring. There are also Yemeni expatriates in neighboring countries who have now returned to the country, and these too are a danger,” Shallal said.

Nobody can go to a hospital.

Muhammad al-Shamaa of Save the Children expresses concern about the lack of medical supplies and staff in Yemen.

Amid fears of an infection, a spark of hope flashed in April when a unilateral ceasefire was announced – the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen.

This unilateral ceasefire was extended for another month, but the Houthis still reject it.

Muhammad al-Shamaa says that fighting still exists beneath the surface.

“Tensions are burning everywhere. The need to stop the conflict is more urgent than ever. No one can go to a hospital or clinic in light of the war, and if an outbreak of the Corona virus occurs, the situation will be terrifying.”


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