Cablegate: Yemen and Avian Flu - Long On Strategy - Short On

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: (a) State 191653 (b) State 182324 (c) State 180478 (d)
State 175585 (e) State 164134

1. SUMMARY: A/DCM Tom Burke, accompanied by USAID's Senior
Health Advisor in Yemen, Dr. Ahmed Attieg, met with Yemeni Public
Health Deputy Minister, Dr. Majid al-Gunaid at his request on
10/17/2005, at which he discussed Yemen state of preparations to
respond to the Avian Flu Influenza. Deputy Minister al-Gunaid
also requested USG financial assistance to bolster Yemen's
preparations to the virus should an outbreak occur and indicated a
willingness to consider Yemen in joining the International
Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza (IPAPI).

Yemen's Strategy

2. Dr. al-Gunaid explained that the Ministry of Public Health's
strategy to prepare for and respond should an incident of Avian
Influenza occur was to be presented to Parliament on October 18.
As of this cable, Parliament had not yet approved the plan for
which the Deputy Minister was seeking unspecified USG financial
assistance, while also indicating that Yemen would consider
joining IPAPI.

3. Yemen's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI) and the
Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) are both responsible for
responding to any incident that might indicate an incidence of
Avian Influenza. The country's first line of defense, Dr. al-
Gunaid explained, was aimed at migratory birds and live poultry
with MAI taking the lead through its surveillance systems. He
mentioned that "some poultry has died recently from some kind of
disease, where influenza was suspected, though later proven not
be the case." The MAI does not have test kits for diagnosing th
disease in animals, but they were expected to arrive the followi
week. He did not mention if anyone is trained in using the test
kits. The Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Agriculture
are concerned about the possibility of transmission from human-t
human and the potentially disastrous effect on the Yemeni and
global economy.

4. Yemen's second line of defense is aimed at humans, with the
Ministry of Health taking the lead in this area. The Deputy
Minister indicated that the country was "strengthening" its
surveillance system in this regard. He also advised that there
a need for more diagnostic equipment that is more sensitive than
the system currently available in the country, as it is a passiv
system (described as a "wait-and-report" model) where they wait
for confirmed cases to be sent back to the capitol (Sanaa). Ove
430 stationary sites throughout Yemen are part of this
surveillance network. The Ministry of Health now desires an
active surveillance system using mobile teams to go out in to th
field and search for suspected infections, and is negotiating wi
the Ministry of Finance to fund it assuming the overall strategy
is approved by Parliament.

5. The Government of Yemen has been in contact with GCC and
other neighboring countries to sign a joint statement on Avian
Flu, but post has no knowledge of any such statement being
initiated or signed by Yemen.

6. The A/DCM pointed out that the Embassy had sent a demarche to
the MFA with a copy to the Ministry of Health discussing the USG
IPAPI initiative, and that the Ministry had not responded. Dr.
al-Gunaid indicated he had not seen the demarche but indicated
Yemen would be interested in joining IPAPI, and was seeking USG
funding to support their strategy. He also indicated that his
office had contacted representatives from the WHO, but no other
NGOs' at the time of the meeting. After the short exchange the
meeting was concluded with an indication that the Ministry of
Health would provide the embassy with a copy of their strategy
when it was approved, following which representatives would meet

USAID Actions

7. USAID's Administrator has tasked USAID Mission Directors with
providing their regional bureau with a rapid assessment survey
outlining the host country's preparedness to respond to Avian an
Pandemic Influenza and a principal point of contact. In USAID
Yemen, Dr. Ahmed Attieg, Senior Health Advisor has been designat
as the POC and responsible for responding the survey requirement
who will remain in close contact with the Ministries of Health a
Agriculture as well as the Disease Surveillance Unit.

8. A meeting with all donors has been requested by the Ministry
of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) for October 26
2005 to discuss the emergency action plan for Avian Flu and to
seek USD $2.6 million to fund it.

9. On October 23, 2005, Post USAID Agriculture office received
an official letter of request for assistance. This request did
not specify an amount of funding required but areas of need.
Clarification of the need and specific actions has been requeste
by USAID from MAI.

10. COMMENT: Until Post receives Parliament's approved plan to
respond to the Avian Flu influenza as well as a clarification of
Yemen's needs by MOI, we are unable to assess what Yemen's
requirements are or how best to work with them in developing the
overall strategy and response should an incident occur. As to t
Deputy Minister's stated willingness for Yemen to join IPAPI, it
is doubtful that he has the authority to express the ROYG's
intent, in this regard.


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