Amran hospitals lack specialists [Archives:2006/962/Health]

July 10 2006

Saddam Al-Ashmori
“We found a piece of gauze inside my wife's wound,” said Najeeb Ahmed Saleh, talking about his wife's last operation.

According to Saleh, his wife went to the government hospital in Amran governorate, where they reside, suffering pain due to appendicitis “After immense efforts and paying bribes, I was able to admit my wife to the hospital for appendectomy surgery,” he explained. “A week after the operation, my wife suffered pain, swelling and separation at the surgical site,” he added.

Saleh and his wife returned to the hospital that gave her antibiotics. “However, my wife's condition became worse, so we traveled to Sana'a. We went to a hospital where she had a second operation at the same site of the previous one. The doctor performing the operation was shocked at the medical gauze he found inside her, disbelieving that the operation was done at Amran Hospital and saying it was a random, unsanitary operation,” Saleh confirmed.

Saleh's wife wasn't the only victim of medical malpractice at the hospital. Ali Al-Miqadhi confirmed that he too suffered pain and inflammation after surgery at Amran Hospital. “I decided to go to a private hospital in Amran after my state became so bad following the surgery. Doctors there said I was near death. They told me the equipment used in the previous operation wasn't clean and that's what led to such pain and inflammation,” he recounted.

Al-Miqadhi insisted that since that incident, he has refused any treatment at Amran Hospital. “If I or one of my relatives becomes sick, we often ask anyone with the same symptoms about the medication used and we pay for it. It's better than going to that hospital,” he stated.

Incredible deterioration

Amran resident Yousef Qaid described the governorate's medical state as “incredibly tottering.” He said Amran Hospital, considered the governorate's only government hospital, lacks specialists, beds and equipment.

“Patients having no relations with powerful people inside the hospital are ignored and most of the time, doctors don't show up,” Qaid said. “I once had to relieve one of my relatives. When we arrived at the hospital's emergency room, we found no one. Do you believe that?” he wondered.

Regarding the governorate's private hospitals, Qaid said the main aim of such hospitals is profit. “These hospitals ask patients to undergo many and various medical tests just to get more money,” he said.

Abdullah Hamid agreed, saying, “When I went with my sick wife to one of the private hospitals, they asked us to do many medical tests. They then diagnosed her illness as a blood infection and we had to buy medication. But she didn't feel well, so we went to another private hospital, where she underwent new medical tests. They diagnosed her illness as typhoid and prescribed new medication. She didn't recover and the last diagnosis was malaria. We don't know who to believe or where to go. I tried to return the medication and get my money back, but they refused,” he explained sadly.

A pharmacist is better than a doctor

“I believe anyone who goes to Amran Hospital is out of his mind because we all know what's going to happen at this hospital!” another Amran resident Yahya Ali Yazeed declared. “More recently, pharmacists are better than doctors who work in the hospitals,” he added

Yazeed confirmed that many governorate citizens prefer going to the pharmacy, describing their conditions to the pharmacist, who in turn prescribes them medication. “However, in the hospital, we get illness instead of treatment,” said Yazeed, who refuses to go to any hospital, particularly in Amran governorate.

From a center to a hospital

According to 2003-2004 statistical health indicators, Amran governorate is home to 1,085,259 Yemenis. There are only 45 physicians, 82 nurses, one government hospital with 100 beds and six rural hospitals with 210 beds. This makes 0.50 physicians, 0.76 nurses and 1.94 beds per 10,000 residents.

Amran Hospital manager Dr. Khalid Al-Kobati explained that the hospital was a medical center in the 1970s. When Amran was declared a governorate, the center became a public hospital. He said the number of beds in the hospital aren't enough and additionally, the building is small and old.

He also confessed that the hospital lacks specialists, but added, “We're better than the past. In the past, we had no medical personnel at all, so we established a medical institute in the governorate for training. Now we have medical personnel in all of the governorate's provinces. However, our big problem is lack of doctors and specialists.”

Al-Kobati confirmed that there are orders to build a central hospital in the governorate with a 250 bed capacity. Another hospital will be established in Hamda region, providing 120 beds. “We expect that these hospitals will begin operating in the next two years.”

Amran Governor Taha Hajer confirmed the same. “The central hospital will cost a billion Yemeni Riyals. A hospital will be built in Khamer city and will cost YR 600 million and a rural hospital in Al-Sawd province will cost YR 200 million,” he added.

Six medical centers also will expand to become hospitals. Besides that, 75 medical units will be established, with 35 ready by the end of this year, according to Hajer. “Two hundred will graduate from the medical institute and they'll cover the governorate's existing medical staff shortage,” he added.

Private sector for competition

Dr. Mohammed Al-Makhathi, general manager of Al-Makhathi Hospital, said Amran governorate's medical state has developed. “When the governorate expanded and the government hospital became unable to cover all of the medical services, the government opened the door to medical investment so private hospitals were established to create a type of competition to offer citizens the best.”

Regarding high prices at private hospitals, he explained that the reason for such prices is, “The distinguished medical services offered in the private hospital.”

According to Al-Makhathi, doctors in government hospitals aren't always available for their patients, who also may not receive a room or a bed in public hospitals; whereas in a private hospital, a patient is under constant medical care by a nurse devoted to each patient, who also enjoys his own room and bed.

However, he pointed out that some private hospitals are directed by inexperienced and unqualified individuals. “Mostly, the executive manager of a private hospital is the one who decides the pricing. But this executive manager may not have the qualifications or have no medical career, so he has no experience in this field. This is very dangerous, as any hospital manager should be a doctor,” Al-Makhathi said.

He confirmed that the Ministry of Health now is leading intensive campaigns to evaluate medical services Yemeni hospitals offer, wherein doctors undergo interviews and medical tests to evaluate their knowledge and ability to treat patients.