Canadian Physicians Bring  Relief to Yemeni Patients [Archives:1999/07/Health]

February 15 1999

An 8-person Canadian medical team from various universities is on a two-week voluntary mission to Yemen to help local patients. This is the 8th year since 1987 that Canadian physicians have been coming to the country to provide free medical service.
Prof. Martin Robinson, the team leader, is an obstetrician and gynocologist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. Actually, the whole group except two come from the same university.
“It takes about six months to plan and execute this trip. We are delighted to lend a helping hand where such help is needed,” Mr. Robinson said. Need is determined by the fact that the Government of Yemen spends less than US$ 3 per year per capita. “I had the opportunity to read the strategy for the health sector in Yemen. I can say that this report has the vision of what this country should try to achieve in the next 15 – 20 years,” he added.
Dr. Hugh Allen, Professor Emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology,
explained the local diseases and conditions that require specialized medical attention. These include spinal deformity at the lower nerve system of the back among infants and children, which block proper growth. This could be treated by the inclusion of folic acid in the mother’s diet, especially during early pregnancy. But it is Dr. Allen’s fistula operations that are most appreciated in Yemen. Many Yemeni women go through unbearable pain in socially sensitive parts.
Dr. Qais Ghanem of the Department of Neurology at the University of Ottawa in Canada, himsel of Yemeni origin, has some advice. There are a few things that need to be done.
“I think there is a certain degree of chaos in the health sector. The country needs a board that will standardize qualifications in the profession. Foreigners may be invited to sit on the board to ensure objective,” he said.
Another advice by Dr. Ghanem relates to the need for more information among the public. “If legislation is enacted, and thepublic is better informed on such vital issues as hygiene, nutrition, family planning, etc., I am sure the health conditions of Yemenis will improve rapidly.
Dr. Robinson asked for better coordination among the various government and non-governmental health agencies in order to maximize services for the public. “We are willing partners to help. We feel that as we were fortunate to have advanced this far, we would like to share our goof fortune with less fortunate people. We invite physicians who are of use to Yemen. This especially relates to services for children, women, etc.” he indicated.
Dr. Allen emphasized the need to spot promising young persons and to help them make progress sothat they can help others. “I have developed a keen eye to spot promising young people. This way, the skill can be passed on to others for the welfare of a larger group.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah Abdul-Wali Nasher, and the director-general of Al-Thawra Hospital, Dr. Abdul-Nasser Munaibari, are delighted with the association. This Canadians provide a valuable service, not only to the patients, but also to the physicians and students.