Honorary Consul Takes the Initiative [Archives:1998/26/Health]

June 29 1998

Professor Guido Bastianelli, head and neck surgeon, is visiting Yemen at the behest of the WHO for a survey of the ENT situation in Sanaa. He has done two main jobs. First, he brought to Al-Kuwait Hospital a complete set of audiological equipment worth $140,000 to establish a center for deafness diagnostics. He examined several patients and did audiometric testing for deaf people.
Second, he has done and supervised some ear surgery for chronic otitis, which is a major problem in Yemen. Prof. Bastianelli is also Yemen’s Honorary Consul in Florence, Italy.
Mohammed Bin Sallam of Yemen Times met the esteemed professor and filed the following interview.
Q: When did you first visit Yemen as a doctor furthering medical cooperation between the two countries?
A: The first time I visited Yemen was as a tourist in 1985. But I first came here as a doctor a couple of yours ago with the help of a Florence NGO. We then donated a modern medical instrument for ear testing. This is my first official visit under the sponsorship of the UN and WHO.
Q: I understand that you are preparing for a big health project in Yemen. Could you tell us about that?
A: I am organizing with Dr. Adnan of the UN a big health project because we have seen during this 7-day survey that in Yemen, especially in Sanaa, due to some climatic conditions, there are many cases of chronic tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and nose trouble.
The project will help to better define new therapies and a new system to prevent the spread of these diseases. You can only give antibiotics for so long, then you have to operate on the patient.
So we have achieved three things:
– Establishing an audiologocal center at Al-Kuwait University Hospital. Instrumentation were brought here with the help of the Italian Ambassador in Sanaa.
– We visited patients in Al-Kuwait and Al-Jomhuriya hospitals and have supervised and conducted a number of operations in cooperation with Yemeni doctors.
Q: When were you appointed as Yemen’s Honorary Consul in Italy?
A: It was done by the country’s respective ambassadors, Mohammed Al-Wazir and Vitalio Napoleone. I got nominated on 18 October by the Italian and Yemeni ministers of foreign affairs. This is really a privilege because it is the only Arab honorary consulate in Italy.
As an honorary consul, my job will be to establish closer ties between the people’s of the two countries, especially in cultural and medical cooperation.
Q: How strong is the medical cooperation between Yemen and Italy?
A: Medical cooperation between the two countries has a very long history, dating back to the 1930s. I have the privilege to continue this cooperation.
Many Yemeni doctors graduated from Italian universities, and Yemeni patients tend to trust Italian doctors.
Q: What are the main needs of the hospitals you visited in Yemen?
A: The staff here are very competent and do their jobs efficiently. However, sophisticated equipment are very expensive, so to do a modern operation to the ear you need many things, which sometimes even Italian hospitals lack.
Al-Kuwait Hospital is planning to import just such instruments. I am sure Yemeni hospitals will in the future have more modern facilities to do complicated surgery.
Q: What are your future plans for Yemen?
A: With some of my Italian colleagues, we are planning to establish a health mission on the Island of Socotra, with the help of the Italian Embassy and Dr. Adnan of the UN. The project will start next November.
I have personally offered some Yemeni doctors to fund one stage of the training in Italy. This will kick off greater cooperation. There are three seats available for Yemeni doctors to come to Florence to train on modern surgical methods.