Clinical and Public Health Microbiology

New Strategies to Combat the Cholera Outbreak in Yemen

On August 13, the Ministry of Public Health in Yemen confirmed a total of 408,583 suspected cases of cholera and 1,885 cholera-associated deaths in their war-torn country.  According to Maali Jamil, communication leader for the non-governmental organization Innovative Yemen (IY), the epidemic has spread from Sana’a to the entire rest of the country.

Undermining any sort of containment or treatment strategy is the fact that Yemen’s power is almost always off, and when it does flicker to life the signal is not reliable.

Nevertheless, IY put together a “hackathon” so that local and global experts could share their knowledge and come up with a plan to stop the spread of the disease.  Speakers were streamed live from IY’s offices to a panel of 30 people, who then teamed up with experts to brainstorm ideas on how to tackle the numerous problems involved.  The sessions were open to the public free of change.

Speakers included a pediatrician and community medicine specialist from Relief and Sustainable Humanitarian Development who outlined the government’s response to the outbreak, a Dutch speaker who discussed desalination and food safety programs, a representative from the International Medical Corps who talked about the holistic responses going on across all the geographical areas affected, and civil engineers that addressed the infrastructure problems that needed to be solved.  Speakers stressed that emergency aid should be coupled with long-term prevention plans.

Abdulsalam Mutahar, project manager of Yemen’s SMEPS organization that oversees small and micro enterprises said that, “Participating in the event was our chance to let people know about ways to bridge the humanitarian-development nexus.  We believe that most donors are over-focused on humanitarian work and miss opportunities to create sustainable jobs that can also help in fighting the epidemic.”

Youself Hamidaddin, IY’s chairman, said that the intent of the conference was not to put out an official solutions paper, but to generate innovative ideas IY could present to national entities who have the power to implement those ideas.

For more information, go to https://www/ or IY’s web site