A second online workshop to explore the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for Yemen took place today. The first virtual meeting with medical Yemeni authorities was organized on 7 May: World Health Organization experts in addition to Order of Malta’s doctors from Italy, Ireland, and Germany and representatives from the Sovereign Order of Malta participated. Likewise, in the meeting today doctors working on the frontline against the pandemic in Europe and Turkey were able once again to share specific insights with their Yemeni counterparts on procedures for preventing and treating the virus.
Staff online training on latest treatment and on the promotion of an appropriate and correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment) are key in fighting the spread of the virus, noted Rainer Lob, Anesthesiologist and chief of Medical Doctors for Malteser Hilfsdienst, the German organization of the Order of Malta. Raising awareness among the public and encouraging behavioral change such as limiting hospital visits and isolating in case of Covid related symptoms should also be considered a priority in the protection protocols said Lisa Cunningham – Emergency Physician for the Order of Malta in Ireland.
Yemen has almost no capacity to confront another health emergency. The war has already disabled approximately half the country’s hospitals and clinics. The UN estimates that 80% of the population need humanitarian assistance, and 4.3 million are believed to have been internally displaced. Food insecurity is rife, and 16 million people lack access to drinking water. Consequently, the country has already had to grapple with several disease outbreaks, most notably of cholera but also dengue fever. The arrival of Covid-19 in Yemen is therefore causing major concern. Given these realities, Yemen cannot weather Covid-19 alone.
The “Doctor to Doctor” project, was launched by the Order of Malta in partnership with the London based think tank Forward Thinking, in the aftermath of the Covid 19 outbreak. Its aim is to connect medical experts with with their counterparts of Middle Eastern countries to share best practices and protocols adopted by countries who are managing the containment of the pandemic. Further two other virtual meetings have already taken place with Palestine authorities.