Jibla Hospital carries on with its mission [Archives:2003/635/Community]

May 12 2003
Hospital GM (Yemeni representative) (R) and Yemen Times reporter (L)
Hospital GM (Yemeni representative) (R) and Yemen Times reporter (L)
Hospital security officer
Hospital security officer
Ibrahim Addahhan
After the killing of the three of its American staff members more than three months ago, many people thought that all Americans and foreign staffers have left Jibla Hospital and that there would not be any more personnel to operate the hospital and save more Yemeni lives. However, that was not the case, as some foreigners continue to serve In fact, many locals thought that if the hospital was to be run by Yemeni management, it will not be able to continue its humanitarian mission. Thus, Yemen Times Ibb correspondent, Ibrahim Addahan went to Jibla Hospital and met with Dr. Abdulkareem Hassan, the current Hospital Director and filed the following interview.

Q: Could you tell us about the circumstances of your work since the sad incident?
A: We started working in the hospital last February, several weeks after the sad incident of killing three American doctors. In present, the hospital continues to perform its duties as it always did. We have a medical team consisting of Yemeni and American doctors and staffers of other nationalities. Despite the incident, the previous American medical team is still around. Other American doctors will also be joining the hospital in the very near future. We sent a letter to the Ministry of Health and Population requesting to facilitate the entry visas for the coming American doctors. Furthermore, we re-opened the Obstetrics department, which stopped operating two years ago.

Q: We heard rumors that other members of the American medical team were about to leave Yemen due to the lack of financial support, which some claim have been discontinued by the Baptist organization that used to finance the hospital. However, after the murder of the three Americans, the budget of the hospital was doubled. Can you comment on that?
A: I was appointed to be the Hospital Director before the unfortunate accident took place. To my knowledge, Dr. Bill, the previous manager, was to continue his job until last October, when he was due to hand over the management of the hospital to Yemenis. On the other hand, the Baptist organization stopped financing the hospital, which used to receive an amount of USD 300,000 yearly. Therefore, the income of the hospital did not cover the required costs for operating the hospital as well as the salary of the employees. We are yet to get confirmations on the new budget.

Q: The hospital used to offer many services to the poor. Are these services still being provided?
A: We are working in the same way and based on the same system which was in place before the incident. In fact, the previous manager Dr. William Bill, used to help the poor using a fund called “fund of the poor”, which was set up to provide help for the poor.

Q: Is the management of the hospital now Yemeni? What about the American staff?
A: Even though the management is now local, we have employed an American Manager to maintain a high quality level. I am the responsible head of the hospital and I supervise all the other employees in the hospital. However, the moment we re-opened the hospital, we were in dire need of many staffers to run the hospital, and hence in need of financial support. We obtained a loan of YR 350,000 from the American medical team that used to work here. No one can deny that they continue to assist the hospital's management and staff and hence help the poor in the area.
Q: Some local and international newspapers claimed that there was a person, who attempted to enter the hospital carrying a gun under his cloak and two locks in his pocket, the moment he passed the gate of the hospital, the metal detecting gate's bell rang and guards stopped him and found a gun and a list of names with him. What really happened?
A: The security officer of the hospital, Mohammed Hassan, can answer this question for you. As you know, most Yemeni men carry weapons in Jibla, so it is a normal thing to find a person carrying a gun in this country. This person came to the hospital but was not aware that it was forbidden to enter with weapons and didn't know that there was a metal detecting system. Although there was a sign on the wall by the gate which states, “Weapons are not allowed to be entered into the hospital”, it is not true that this person was carrying two locks and a list of names. This is not true, and the papers that published this did a grave mistake by not investigating their stories properly. They should not have exaggerated to create sensationalism to promote their papers in the market at the expense of the reputation and national interests of Yemen.
On the other hand, that armed person suffered from a psychologically illness because when he was asked about the reasons for coming to the hospital, he said he wanted to be treated from his psychological disease. I do believe in what he said.

Mohammed Hassan, the Security Officer of the hospital, in reference to the above incident, said that the person who tried to enter the hospital carrying a gun was an ordinary person and had not links to any Islamic radical group. “He had no intentions to harm anyone, including names that may have been on the small paper he had. This contradicts with what some papers published. We simply do not know how they came up with such a story. They were not even here at the time of the event. They should refer to the Ministry of the Interior or to any reliable source, rather than publishing street gossips” he said.

Yemen Times then interviewed Mr. Lee Jackson, the Advisor to the new Yemeni management and asked him the following questions.
Q: What was your impression about the event that took place more than three months ago?
A: A few days after the event, I went in to Jibla city and was very much surprised to find all the inhabitants of the city very sad at the loss of Dr. Matha, Dr. Bill, and Kathlin. Therefore, my impression is that the people of Jibla are so kind and love all of the people working in the hospital the same way we like the people of Jibla. We are so happy to return to work in the hospital.

Q: Do you know anything about the ongoing investigation with the killer?
A: The only thing I know is that they imprisoned him in Ibb for some time, and then transferred him to Sana'a. Then we heard they mistreated him in the prison and used violence with him. Actually, despite the crime that he committed, the news of his mistreatment annoyed us and made us feel sorry for him. We hope they will stop this treatment.

Q: Have you heard that someone attempted to enter the hospital carrying a gun?
A: Yes. We heard about that, but the police caught him and are now investigating his motives.

Q: How do you find Yemeni people in general?
A: We love Yemenis as they are very good and friendly people.

Q: Have you thought of returning to the USA after the sad incident? And if you still want to stay, would you continue working under the hospital's new Yemeni administration?
A: At present, we are not thinking of returning to our country. Besides, God wants us to work in Yemen. We are happy to work under the new Yemeni management.
Q: Does the Baptist organization still support the hospital?
A: The hospital is considered one of the best hospitals in Yemen due to its efficient medical team. The Baptist organization still supports the hospital with doctors, experts, nurses and medicine.

Q: What is your opinion about the American policy concerning the war against Iraq? Will it negatively influence the humanitarian services offered to some Arabic countries like Yemen?
A: We as Americans refuse the war on Iraq but we cannot do anything to influence the policies of President George W. Bush. The only thing we can do is to express ourselves in peaceful means through demonstrations. But we believe that God will help us all overcome this problem. As for the humanitarian services we provide to some countries, I would like to tell you that they will continue in times of peace or amid war.

Q: Do you wish to say or add anything at the end of the interview?
A: I would like to say that I have had a good time working in Yemen and I had the good fortune of working in thisparticular hospital. I really enjoy working with Yemeni people and we always seem to form a good team with them to better serve the people of Jibla and Yemen through our hospital.