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Published:September 24th, 2006 10:07 EST
Medical Issues in Yemen - Typhoid, Qat, and Malaria are just a few

Medical Issues in Yemen - Typhoid, Qat, and Malaria are just a few

By Robert Draper III

Restaurants: Would you like Typhoid with that?

After stepping off the 18 hour flight that it takes to get to Yemen, one would expect a delicious cooked meal with mean well done, and the food prepared according to proper health standards, but not here in Sana`a, the capital of Yemen. It is evident upon stepping out of the Sana`a airport into a restaurant filled with customers, dirty tables and semi cooked food to order, that the expected health standards are as foreign to the Yemeni people as westerners are to Yemen. It is the norm for waiters and cooks to handle the food barehanded while standing in a steamy hot grill area, where cooked food is stored on open air shelves scattered with dirty, spilled cooking oil, and the remains of day old food.

As the flies peruse the variety of delicious soups, meats vegetables, and bread found in one of the restaurants, a customer steps in line for his daily meal. If he hasn`t done his research most travelers, he would not know that 400 cases " of Typhoid fever occurs each year and 75% of these are acquired while traveling internationally, " according to the (CDC) Center for Disease Control and prevention. Since Typhoid exits in meat products, eggs, and in some fruit peels, the CDC recommends that travelers cook their meats well done, boil the Yemeni faucet water, and clean all fruit and vegetables prior to peeling them. If you can follow these simple guidelines, life in Yemen will be better. But, if you contract the deadly disease, Cyprox 500 is the cure, and depending on how long Typhoid has been in your bloodstream it may take 10 to 30 days to eradicate the disease.

Qat: The Good Feeling Drug

Qat is the drug of choice in Yemen, and why shouldn`t it be. Qat is legally grown on farms in Yemen, and is legally distributed on the corner of the major streets in Sana`a, the capital of Yemen. According to Dr. Muhammad Gasam when a person chews Qat it gives them a since of euphoria. Dr. Gasam, who is a long term Qat chewer himself, says it endows its user with a since of power. It makes a person feel that they can take on any challenge. " Accompanying the feel good side effects of Qat, are symptoms of withdraw. These symptom include depression, loss of anorexia, and weight loss are long term. Also, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency of America, the "widespread frequent use of Qat impacts the productivity," of the society. It impacts the productivity of the worker "because it tends to reduce the workers motivation." This is apparent in Yemen once you have lived here for while.

The society actually takes a three to four hour brake between twelve noon and four p.m. for lunch and of course Qat chewing. Furthermore, `One of the worst side effects of long term Qat usage is liver disease," explains Dr. Gasam. This disease derives from the spray that the Qat farmers use to make the plant grow faster. Accompanying the harmful physical side effects is the economic drain on the individual person and the society as a whole. It is speculated that the average Yemeni spends 1/3 of his paycheck on Qat. As a result of the physical and economic side effects, the Yemen society is a slow paced and slowly productive society while its Arab neighbors are the exact contrast. The Yemen society is a prime example of how massive drug use aids in the dilapidation of the country`s workforce.

Malaria: A deadly parasite responsible for over 1000 deaths in Yemen.

In Yemen, as well as many other developing countries, the deadly disease of Malaria infects and disables its victims by bombarding its victims with painful fever and shivering of eh body. As days pass, the infected person looses his desire to eat, and death is soon to follow if the infected person is not treated. Dr. Muhammad Gasam, a doctor who has been practicing in Yemen for over five years says, "Malaria is a disease derived from "four species of parasitic protozoan that infects human red blood cells."

According to the (MFI) Malaria Foundation International Organization, "these four protozoa are once celled organism that lives a complex life when compared to other one celled organism. When an Anopheles mosquito feeds on the infected blood of a human, the malaria parasite inters the body of the mosquito and it "reproduces itself in the gut of the Anopheles mosquito," explains (MFI). The parasite needs both the human and the mosquito as a host during its lifecycle. AS s expected, the infected mosquito unknowingly passes the malaria parasite to its next victim through its salivary glands when it feeds. Malaria is widespread throughout the sub-Saharan Africa, and in different regions of the Middle East. Due to the massive eradication program implemented in the 1940` sand 1950`s, Malaria is non existent in North America. There are a few cases of Malaria infections, but they are isolated occurrences. Controlling Malaria is a multitask undertaking comprising of identifying infected individuals, prescribing appropriate drugs, educating populations of people where Malaria is prevalent, and using insecticide, and mosquito repellent to fight the mosquito population of the region.

Why are multiple strategies needed to combat Malaria? According to the (MFI) "multiple strategies against Malaria are needed because there are numerous species of vectors and four species of Plasmodium. Some populations of Plasmodium, especially Plasmodium falciparum, are resistant to drugs, so alternative drugs need to be used." If the regions where there is a high probability or history of infections undergoes the above preventative measures this deadly disease can be eradicated, just as it has been eradicated in North America.

Medical Needs in Yemen

The medical institutions in Yemen recommended by the American Embassy of Sana`a Yemen are adequate for ones health needs. According to the website of the American Embassy, there is a list of medical professional ranging from psychiatrist, pediatrics to general surgeons and orthopedics. The complete list of the medical professionals and hospitals can be found in the medical info section of the web site.