Muscat: A new National Plan to combat the spread of cholera from neighbouring Yemen is working, the Ministry of Health has revealed.
With 5,000 new cases every day in neighbouring Yemen, the ministry launched a National Plan that included targeting border zones and educating Omanis on proper barrier controls.
The ministry plan, sent to every single governorate, is working so far, officials say, with no recorded cases of cholera in the Sultanate.
The Ministry has spoken to the Times of Oman about the agency’s preparedness for the cholera epidemic in Yemen, which is intensifying by the day as the country is ravaged by poor infrastructure and sanitation.
“The Ministry of Health, in coordination with the concerned establishments, has prepared a national plan for preparedness in response to the cholera epidemic. This plan has been circulated among the governorates according to their geographical vulnerability and environmental sanitation,” the Ministry said.
“A descriptive manual has been approved for the suspected and confirmed cases of cholera. Also, the laboratory tests are carried out in the event of suspicion inside or outside the borders of the state,” they added.
The Ministry has confirmed that no cases of cholera have been detected in any of the Sultanate’s governorates, though the disease continues to spread through war-torn Yemen.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the total number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen hit half a million mark last week, and nearly 2,000 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April. “Each day there are more than 5,000 new cases of the waterborne disease, which causes acute diarrhoea and dehydration,” the WHO said.
Oman’s Ministry of Health has affirmed their role in supporting Yemenis through the epidemic, by sending aid and support to the country through the Oman Charitable Organisation, and through partnership with the WHO.
The heads of UNICEF, the WFP and WHO - had recently conducted a visit to Yemen to survey the country’s condition.
“This is the world’s worst cholera outbreak in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Vital health, water and sanitation facilities have been crippled by more than 2 years of hostilities, and created the ideal conditions for diseases to spread,” they said, in a joint statement.
The Ministry of Health has also conducted community awareness campaigns in Oman on safe practices to avoid the spread of the disease. “A leaflet was prepared, containing the most important advice for the prevention of water and food borne diseases and that spread during summer and travelling.”
“Also, a lecture has been prepared for guidance to the health educators throughout the Sultanate, educating the community about prevention of diseases transmitted by water and food in general, among which is cholera, as well as the most important methods of treatment,” the official explained.
The Ministry also gave advice, including keeping hands clean during the following tasks: when preparing or eating food, using the toilet, washing children, dealing with garbage, taking care of a patient with diarrhoea, and when dealing with animals and agriculture.
“Maintain personal hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water carefully. If soap and water is not available, use antiseptic hand rub,” an official said.
“Take care of the safety of water by using a safe source, such as cans, water bottles, unopened drinks, boiled water or chlorinated water. Avoid drinking untreated water from lakes, springs or shallow wells.”
“Avoid using unknown water to wash fruit and vegetables, or to make ice, to wash teeth. Avoid swallowing water while swimming in pools, lakes, springs or the sea. Also avoid drinking tap water or using ice while travelling,” the official added.
The Ministry also encouraged individuals to maintain safe food practices, by washing fruits and vegetables carefully, avoiding unpasteurised dairy products, eating only well cooked meats, avoiding eating exposed food, avoiding street vendors, and refraining from preparing and serving food to others if you have symptoms of the disease.
“Keep the environment around you clean. Keep the toilet and surrounding area clean, and dispose of garbage in sealed bags, within designated areas. Avoid keeping garbage inside the house for long periods of time,” the agency said.