COVID 19 is battering Yemen and health care workers are doing the best they can with what they have.
As many organizations rush to help Yemen, Yemen Mobile Health (YMH) is doing its part. YMH is based in the UK and a project run by the Yemen Special Interest Group of the UK Faculty of Public Health . It is in association with the Liverpool Friends of Yemen and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
We talked with Taher Qassim, Project Manager, to learn more about what they’re doing to help. Their approach is simple. The organization specializes in making reliable, evidence based information accessible to the people of Yemen.
YMH works with different organizations throughout Yemen and receives real-time updates on COVID-19. In working with these teams, they’ve learned more about the challenges they face. The lack of a central authority in Yemen to inform the public of the COVID19 threat poses a critical issue.
Taher explains further, “The phrase we get nowadays, الله يرحمه أو يرحمها، إن لله وإن إليه راجعون "" (God bless him/her, We're all going back to Allah) It’s a phrase that someone has died. People share this phrase on an almost daily basis. Additionally, social media exacerbate the situation with fake news or distorted information and this confuses people in Yemen further. There are many who believe that Coronavirus does not exist in Yemen and are not prepared to take any preventative measures.”
YMH also learned that health care professionals and the people of Yemen are in desperate need of information about this disease. YMH has worked with healthcare professionals in the UK and the USA to create information such as FAQ’s on their website that can be used by healthcare professionals. They also create images catered to the Yemeni people and made accessible by sending them through WhatsApp.
"...social media exacerbates the situation with fake news or distorted information and this confuses people in Yemen further. There are many who believe that Coronavirus does not exist in Yemen and are not prepared to take any preventative measures.”
- Taher Qassim
It works like this. You reach out to (44 7834 888277) on WhatsApp and get added to a list. Consistently, messages are sent to provide information on how to protect oneself from the disease, how not to spread it, and what to do when sick.
The images are designed to be understandable even if one cannot read. They target issues specific to Yemen and the images are reviewed by a focus group in Yemen. Feedback received is implemented as needed.
Thus far, the feedback has been positive. Because YMH makes it a priority to talk to the people in Yemen about how they understand these messages, they get feedback on more than just the messages. An example of feedback received was that the people want to learn how to make masks. Although it’s not in YMH’s wheelhouse, they are actively working on posting videos that show how to make masks.
We asked Taher what we (anyone) can do to help Yemen right now. Here are ways you can help through YMH:
Project Idea: PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks, gloves, face shields etc, is desperately needed. If someone can find a way to empower the people of Yemen to make their own PPE, it would be a huge help.
Subscribe to the WhatsApp list. Get your family and friends in Yemen to subscribe to the WhatsApp messages to get important information. You can also sign up yourself and forward the images and messages to friends and family as needed.
Volunteer. They are in need of many skills such as graphic designers, writers, researchers, IT services, marketing, teachers, translators and more.
Be an advocate for YMH. Tell your family and friends about it, support it in any way that you can.