Breaking Ground in Cardiology [Archives:1997/47/Reportage]

November 24 1997

in Yemen
The Second Yemeni Cardiac Meeting is due to be held during 2-4 December in Sanaa. Participating cardiologists will come from Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Italy, the UK, and Belgium. The sponsors include the Yemeni Patients’ Friends Charitable Association (YPFCA), the Yemeni Cardiac Society, the Ministry of Health, and the Faculty of Medicine at Sanaa University. The main topics to be discussed will touch on health problems related to rheumatic and ischemic heart diseases, cardiomyopthy, arrhythmia, hypertension, pediatric cardiology, congenital heart disorders, qat and CVD. Many of these heart problems now account for major health problems in Yemen. Bin Sallam of Yemen Times met three of the meeting’s organizers and filed the following report.
1. Dr. Ahmed Lutf Al-Mutarreb, a cardiologist and deputy head of the (YPFCA). Q: Could you tell us more about this cardiac meeting? A: The first meeting was held in 1996. This meeting will be attended by about 400 leading specialists and more than 30 professors from outside Yemen. A lot of attention will be given to pediatric cardiology due to the large proportion of heart diseases, congenital or otherwise, among children. In coordination with the Italian team of specialists, a number of Yemeni children with heart ailments will be treated in Italy at the expense of the YPFCA and the Yemeni government.
Q: What role does the YPFCA play? A: The YPFCA encourages scientific research and gaining up-to-date medical information by inviting top international specialists and surgeons to participate in such meetings.
Q: Are there any plans to establish a special cardiac hospital? A: The human resources for such an undertaking are available, but the will and financial capabilities are still lacking. The cost of a national heart center can reach over $ 10 million. The YPFCA is now looking for a site for such a center.
2. Dr. Mohammed Yahya Al-No’ami, a cardiologist, the head of the Yemeni Cardiac Society, and the YPFCA secretary-general. Q: What are the main goals behind organizing this meeting? A: The primary goal is an educational one. Yemeni doctors eagerly want to know the latest world developments in medicine. Instead of the Yemeni doctors going abroad, which many cannot afford, we invite specialist who are well versed in their field to lecture and train their Yemeni colleagues. The second goal is to make bilateral agreements with some of the visiting organizations to train both junior and senior Yemeni doctors abroad. Italy, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have expressed their willingness to receive Yemeni doctors for training at their medical establishments.
Q: Who is funding this meeting? A: The meeting is supported by the Sanaa Municipality, the Ministry of health, the Presidency Office, the Dutch Embassy in Sanaa, drug companies, some international organizations, and a number of benevolent Yemeni businessmen.
Q: What are the criteria observed in sending Yemeni patients for medical treatment abroad? A: An extensive medical check-ups such as cardiography are first conducted to find out the extent of the patient’s need for treatment abroad. As far as heart surgery is concerned, there are several well-qualified surgeons, but the facilities are not sufficient for major heart surgeries. I call on the Thawra hospital and the Ministry of Health to start to seriously consider the opening of a cardiac unit as a first step towards a more comprehensive national cardiac center.
3. Dr. Abdul-Nasser Abdu Munaibari, a cardiac consultant and assistant lecturer in CVD at the College of Medicine at Sanaa University. Q: How many heart surgeons are there in Yemen? A: When I started as a GP 10 years ago, there were only about 3 or 4 heart specialists in all Yemen. There are now around 30 to 40 highly qualified cardiologists. There are many other doctors with enough practice to be able to deal with heart diseases.
Q: Are there enough resources to open a cardiac center in Yemen? A: This question has been raised since long ago. The Thawra Hospital used to give each patient eligible for treatment abroad $2,500, in addition to ‘plane tickets. During a previous seminar on heart diseases in Yemen, we found that the money spent in one year on sending patients abroad was enough to establish a highly specialized health center.
Q: How many research papers will be submitted at the meeting? A: We are now reviewing 29 papers covering diverse topics related to heart diseases. We are trying to make our esteemed guests present the utmost of their experiences and expertise. Some will not actually be papers, but major lectures on heart surgery and other crucial topics. We have already received 16 such lectures on the most modern heart disease treatments and surgical techniques. Yemeni doctors will benefit a lot from this meeting. It will help raise their research and diagnostic capabilities. Msot Yemeni doctors are trying their best to achieve this. It is bound, in th long term, to enhance the Yemeni pateint’s trust in his Yemeni doctor, something which has been quite lacking.