Free Reconstructive Surgery [Archives:1997/43/Health]

October 27 1997

The Dutch Interplast organization carries out medical aid programs in developing countries. People suffering from burns and patients with cleft lips and palates as well as congenital abnormalities of the hands, legs, and genitals are operated on by Dutch plastic surgeons, anesthetists and operating theater assistants. The operations are carried out in close cooperation with the local doctors, who also participate in all Interplast out-patient clinics and operations. Thus, they acquire a short but through training in a number of plastic surgery and anesthesia techniques. The Interplast surgeons volunteer their services during their vacation time. A total of 10 teams of Interplast plastic surgeons were sent out on missions in 1995/96 to Uganda, Ghana, Vietnam, and Lebanon.
“In this manner, Interplast aims to create a worldwide network, with the attendant objective of introducing reconstructive surgery in countries where this specialization does not yet exist,” said Dr. Piet van den Akker the Manager of Nedcare – the visit-organizing body. Nedcare Medical Desk in Amsterdam takes care of patients coming from the Middle East for medical treatment in Holland. Dr. Akker said that his knowledge of the situation in Yemen made him “try hard for about a year to convince the Interplast team to come to this country.” He added, “the Dutch Embassy, KLM, and the Ministry of Public Health in Yemen all cooperated in facilitating the Interplast visit.”
Consisting of 3 surgeons, one anesthetist, one operation assistant, and Dr. Akker the coordinator, the Interplast team conducted 75 surgeries during the first week of its stay in Yemen. “We aim to do a similar number of operations during the second and final week of the visit,” announced Dr. Akker.
Professor Rein E. Zeeman – Interplast Chairman – said, “qualifications to do major neck and head surgeries are lacking in Yemen, so we try to help in this field as much as we can.” In addition to the operations which are attended by Yemeni doctors, Prof. Zeeman and his two other colleagues – Prof. Jong and Prof. Bos – delivered a number of valuable lectures to their Yemeni colleagues. “Through attending operation theaters and the lectures given, Yemeni doctors can pick up things from us and use them in the future,” indicated Prof. Zeeman. On the facilities and equipment available in Yemeni hospitals, Dr. Zeeman commented, “the equipment here are better than in many other developing countries.” In concluding, Prof. Zeeman said; “Interplast is and remains a matter for team work. The board and volunteers hope that they continue to count on your help and assistance in the future. It is only by working together that we can ensure that Interplast can go on performing operations.”