H1N1 virus concerns locals, hospitals reassure public

News and Press Release
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Published on 24 January 2013 in News

Bassam Al-Ashmori (author)

SANA’A, Jan. 23 — Following five confirmed deaths in Sana'a in December and four recent deaths in Taiz as a result of the H1N1 virus, an administrator at a local hospital said outbreaks of swine flu, as the virus is commonly known, are not as dangerous as public perception would lead.

Dr. Salem Sameer No’man, the financial administration manager at the Yemen German Hospital, said the majority of those who die from the H1N1 virus are patients who already have compromised immune systems. He says the public can protect itself by going to pharmacies where vaccinations against the virus are readily available.

Dr. Nassr Al-Qadasi, the head of Al-Jamhouri Hospital in Sana’a, blames drug companies who produce the vaccines for exaggerating the dangers of the virus.

He has tried to reassure the public by advising them to take the necessary precautions like hand washing and says hospital staff have been informed of how to deal with the virus and curb its spread.

According to Al-Qadasi, five patients entered Al-Jamhouri with flu like symptoms last week, but only one, who is currently recovering, was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

Despite reassurance from doctors and officials from Ministry of Health and Population, who told the Yemen Times in December that necessary precautions have been taken to deal with the virus, many locals still fear infection.

Ali Qaed, an engineer in Sana'a, said, “The principal reason behind the spread of this virus in Yemen is deteriorated health facilities.”

Esam Zahra, an employee at Yemen Radio and Television Corporation, said he heard about H1N1 on local and foreign TV channels, but doesn’t believe the Ministry of Health has taken responsibility to launch educational programs about the danger of the virus.

One particularly worrisome concern for citizens is a lack of educational campaigns in schools, where diseases can quickly spread.

Huda Ali Al-Hamili, a teacher at Al-Aqsa Girls School, said there were rumors that the Ministry of Education was meant to launch educational campaigns about H1N1, but to date, no information has been provided.

Asma Ba’thar, a teacher at Salem Al-Subah School, says schools are overcrowded in Sana'a and she worries that the lack of concern on the part of the Health Ministry could potentially lead to outbreaks.

The first case of H1N1 was confirmed by the Health Ministry in June 2009. The patient was an American student in Yemen.