Despite obstacles, Iranian hospital offers quality care to Yemenis [Archives:2008/1159/Local News]

May 29 2008

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, May 27) Since its establishment in April 2004, the Iranian Hospital in Sana'a has offered good medical services to those Yemeni residents of limited income. The hospital has gained a reputation in Yemen, thanks to its high quality care, particularly in ophthalmology. It performs 15 corneal transplants per month, despite the fact that large numbers of Iranian citizens living in their own country wait months to receive such cornea surgery.

Some Yemenis have alleged that some Ministry of Health officials don't want it to offer distinctive medical services in any specializations other than ophthalmology, so that they may make money via their private clinics, in addition to sending patients abroad for treatment.

However, the Iranian Red Crescent Society is willing to expand the hospital and improve its medical services, as well as continue offering services to those of limited income either for free or at minimal cost.

The Yemen Times met with the hospital's manager, Dr. Dolat Khalilvanal, who briefly described her hospital and its services to patients. Answering questions filed to her, the manager limited her responses to the professionalism of her staff.

According to her, the hospital's ophthalmology clinic offers patients distinctive services such as corneal transplants. She indicated that the Iranian Red Crescent provides the hospital 15 corneas from Iran per month, which are given to Yemeni patients at a very low cost, further pointing out that one of these 15 corneas is reserved for members of Yemen's poorest groups for free.

“Our hospital's clinic is the first in Yemen specializing in corneal transplants. So far, we've transplanted some 1,000 corneas and conducted nearly 8,000 eye surgeries since our opening,” Khalilvanal added.

The Iranian Hospital contains clinics for orthopedics, pediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, in addition to laboratory and X-ray units. All of these units and clinics offer services to Yemeni citizens of limited income at very low costs or for free to the poorest groups.

“Our hospital sees between 600 and 800 patients per day. The other Iranian Medical Center west of Sana'a also has been offering Yemenis good medical services around the clock since its establishment in 1991. It is highly respected and appreciated by Yemenis,” said Khalilvanal.

A pathology specialist and professor at Tehran University for Medical Sciences, Khalilvanal confirms that both the Iranian Hospital and Medical Center offer Yemenis medical services based on their faith in the strong relations with Yemenis dating back to pre-Islamic times.

“We plan to bring in Iranian doctors specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, abdominal diseases, anesthetization, intensive care, neurology and general surgery, as well as train nurses and other staff working at the hospital's various clinics,” she said about the hospital's future plans to contribute to treating rare and hard-to-cure diseases.

When asked about obstacles to their work, Khalilvanal said the hospital has difficulty obtaining entry visas for visiting doctors it brings to Yemen to conduct urgent and critical surgeries.

“We hope the relevant Yemeni officials will cooperate with us in this regard because solving such a problem immediately means providing services to Yemeni citizens,” she said. “We're concerned about those patients we can't help due to problems beyond our control.”

“I'd like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to those Yemeni officials who spare no effort in supporting us and providing all of the necessary facilities in order to overcome any difficulties facing our work,” said Khalilvanal.

Yemen's Ministry of Public Health and Population signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian Red Crescent Society on April 26, 2004 regarding operating and managing the Iranian Hospital, whose capacity is 60 beds.

Valid for five years from the date of its signing by both parties, the memorandum stipulates that the Iranian Red Crescent will operate the hospital technically, administratively and financially, as well as provide the necessary medical equipment in order for it to offer services to Yemeni patients at its various clinics and units.

Additionally, the Iranian Hospital will offer medical services according to prices in effect at hospitals affiliated with the Ministry of Public Health and Population, while the ministry will oversee the hospital's work in coordination with the Iranian Red Crescent Society, providing it with specialized Yemeni staff upon demand.