WHO and iMMAP's Long-Standing Partnership in Yemen Strengthens Overall Response to Health Emergencies

iMMAP's long-term agreement with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) has yielded tangible results in the fight to ease Yemen's health issues

The crisis in Yemen has left over 20 million Yemenis deprived of access to adequate healthcare, according to the latest numbers provided by the recently released 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

The multiple, deadly epidemiological outbreaks, including cholera and diphtheria – whose spread accelerated by colossal floods - have encumbered an already weak health system. Only 51 percent of health facilities are fully functional and just 40 percent of the secondary health facilities provide non-communicable disease and mental health services, as revealed by the 2021 HNO.

The COVID-19 pandemic further stretched out Yemen's weary health capacity. The 2021 HNO uncovered that roughly 15 percent of the country's functioning health system had been re-purposed to combatting the pandemic, reducing the overall health service coverage by 20 to 30 percent. Fears and stigmas, in addition to spikes in costs and delays in the supply of COVID-19 protective equipment, have dipped the number of patients seeking healthcare.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for promoting health at the country level and serving the vulnerable and responding to health emergencies at the global level. As the designated Health Cluster lead agency globally and in the field, WHO is preparing and leading the coordination of health emergency and crisis interventions to meet the health needs of affected populations, alleviate suffering, and save lives.

Infographic detailing the total number of products generated by iMMAP in support of WHO and the Yemen Health Cluster

In coordinating a response during a crisis, WHO deals with a myriad of actors, including other United Nations agencies, international and local NGOs, governments and civil society organizations. Along with these actors, the organization needs to work with multiple data sources, including its own, to ensure relevant information is utilized, shared, and accessed without difficulties.

According to the WHO Data Principles, released in August 2020, access to reliable, timely and accurate information is critical. However, the daunting task of coordinating data and information at different levels of a large crisis, from high-level to on-ground operations, remains exhausting. Within a complex crisis such as Yemen, humanitarian actors face immense challenges with intervening effectively without data and information that are forthcoming, reliable and integrated to support practical to high-level decision making.

Long-term agreements

WHO has been working with iMMAP to expand its information management strategy, enabling streamlined information management practices between WHO and the Health Cluster programs. Enabled by its long-term agreement (LTA) with WHO in the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO), iMMAP has been assisting the WHO and the Yemen Health Cluster in approaching information management strategically, safeguarding the efficiency and sustainability of internal and external processes, technology and skills at different levels.

iMMAP has been working with WHO and the Health Cluster to prevent the deterioration of health situations in emergency and fragile settings. For example, in Yemen, iMMAP’s support has created a workspace with automated procedures, enabling WHO to have a faster response and meaningful impact on the most vulnerable populations. Our achievements together would not be possible without the LTA framework, which allows WHO and iMMAP to work side by side in the MENA region to provide on-demand advanced information management support.Fridon Japardize, iMMAP’s Country Director in Yemen

In contrast to short-term support, long-term engagement yields sustainable solutions and enables iMMAP to deploy IM strategies shifting focus from a time-consuming manual data management process to automated workflows. Furthermore, manual data processing is insufficient for highly methodological frameworks, which require vast technical knowledge and internal expertise to ensure that by the time data is received in a structured and meaningful format, it hasn't lost its value.

Together with WHO, iMMAP has conducted a holistic study of WHO's body of health interventions in Yemen to prioritize essential activities, reassess existing health information sources to harmonize data, and create a strong correlation across WHO response and Health Cluster activities. With the adopted information management method, the combined practical steps and innovative tools have significantly reduced the time to produce information products yet maintained accuracy.

Further to its harmonization efforts, iMMAP employed datasets from other sectors to incorporate into WHO's analytical framework. This step enhanced the overall coherence of WHO's products and findings with overlapping issues faced by diverse sectors. By utilizing various operational datasets from other sectors merged with WHO's operational analysis, a broader spectrum of analysis overview was enabled, rather than a standalone assortment of fragmented data and information.

Over the course of their agreement, WHO and iMMAP generated and automated products related to the cholera outbreak in Yemen. These products, such as the Cholera Bulletin and a number of dashboards (Cholera Epidemiological Update, Cholera Governorate Profiles and Cholera Time Series), are updated weekly to bring involved stakeholders up to speed with the latest information and developments on the ground in Yemen.

iMMAP's products have been heavily used by WHO and were shared on different platforms to advocate for people's needs and resources mobilization. WHO representative

Automated Snapshot of the Health Cluster Achievements

In April 2020, as the rest of the world, Yemen faced the consequences of a deadly and debilitating pandemic.
In response, WHO and iMMAP worked to uncover the areas hardest hit by the pandemic and collected COVID-19-related data. The collected data resulted in a centralized database to support the epidemiological team with the COVID-19 response plan.

Adding to noteworthy initiatives such as expanding the COVID-19 response activities and building local information management talent capacity, iMMAP's most significant contribution has been the development of the Yemen COVID-19 Information Dashboards Catalog. The dashboard spotlights different aspects of WHO's COVID-19 response strategy and plan, illustrating data on logistics, isolation units, risk communication and community engagement, and the number of available oxygen cylinders within classified health facilities in Yemen.

Infographic pinpointing the operational COVID-19 Isolation Units throughout Yemen

iMMAP IMOs to the Health Cluster

As part of the cluster support project, five iMMAP IMOs were seconded to the Health Cluster hubs in cities such as Sana'a, Aden, Al Hodeidah and Sa'dah to reinforce linkages within the health information management ecosystem in Yemen. The existing setup of iMMAP IMOs in the field accelerated the adoption of various health information management tools while providing crucial feedback and insights to WHO.

The synergic approach between iMMAP, WHO and the Health Cluster reinforced the harmonization of information management practices across the field, leveraging existing capacity, ensuring standardization, and sharing knowledge and best practices.

I truly appreciate the dedication to daily work, innovative thinking, and friendship, which the iMMAP team brought to the Health Cluster. iMMAP helped to better interact with partners and understand the context on the ground through simplifying complex processes through automation, rather than relying on traditional information management means. " Beyond this, iMMAP's intention to create an environment of shared vision and knowledge, together with tailored trainings, has been a valuable instrument to support knowledge transfer and sustained health response ensuring that no one is left behind.Yemen's Health Cluster Coordinator

To learn more about iMMAP's support to the Health Cluster in Yemen, please email info-mena@immap.org.