Yemen:COVID-19 Health System Preparation Measures

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The European Union (EU)-funded project “Supporting Inclusive Access to Health Services” continues to provide technical assistance to the health sector in Yemen in a variety of crisis-related initiatives. Our prokect teams have recently implemented proactive steps in preparing the health system to face the overwhelming Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, although no confirmed cases have been reported as of 31 March, while building on previous project activities addressing infection and control policies and practices.

Prior to the COVID-19 global outbreak, project activities including infection prevention and control training for health workers as well as the development of a comprehensive National Training Manual on Infection Prevention and Control, were undertaken. The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Yemen, in efforts to establish and improve strict infection prevention practices, has approved this manual to be the technical reference for infection prevention procedures in each of the nearly 5,000 health facilities country-wide.

Regarding specific early Covid-19-response actions, the project team successfully conducted a new, highly relevant 5-day training course: Fundamentals of Critical Respiratory Care from 28-31 March. The training targeted Yemeni health staff working at secondary hospital level across three governates. Following post-training evaluation, the training course would be rolled out to cover larger numbers of health staff.

A newly established unit of Respiratory Care in the MoPH is tasked to establish Respiratory Care Units in all hospitals with the mandate of managing cases with respiratory distress and cases requiring invasive respiratory procedures such as tracheal intubation, and mechanical ventilation. The recent respiratory care training course aimed at equipping the respiratory care units’ staff with requisite knowledge and skills to functionalize these units and respond to the anticipated large number of Covid-19 critical cases, once the pandemic is present in Yemen.

"This type of specific training in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is highly relevant as most severe cases and deaths are related to respiratory complications. The Yemeni health system, especially in the secondary hospital level, is fragile and in need of large-scale support in terms of staffing, equipment and medicines," according to Yaser Alsaleh, Project Team Leader and Senior Consultant in Public Health and Reproductive Health. "The inputs of the project are efficiently placed to target very key staff, who would be the on-the-ground task force to manage all critical cases of Covid-19."

The project technical team in Yemen is continuously assessing the emerging needs with counterparts in relevant departments and jointly planning early response actions, particularly in capacity building of the health staff. We will continue to highlight these activities.