Physicians For [Archives:1997/45/Health]

November 10 1997

Peace Helping Patients, Training MDs
A symposium and a series of theoretical and practical lectures on various medical topics were organized jointly by Al-Thawra General Hospital and the Physicians For Peace (PFP) international organization. In addition to the symposium’s two-day sessions, members of the Physicians for Peace team spent two weeks conducting practical training sessions for the benefit of Yemeni doctors. Ismail Al-Ghabiry of Yemen Times met some of the participants in the symposium, and filed the following report. Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Sayyaghi, the General Director of Al-Thawra Modern General Hospital in Sanaa.
Q: How beneficial is this medical symposium for Yemeni doctors? A: It is very difficult now for Yemeni doctors to go abroad and get acquainted with the new scientific developments. So this symposium has been a great chance for them to know the up-to-date means of disease management and various new developments in medicine and nursing.
Q: What kind of lectures did the visiting doctors give? A: The lectures were mainly on cardiology and the diagnosis of myocardial infarction. We also had lectures in other fields of medicine such as obstetrics, gynecology, chest surgery, etc. Most interesting, however, was the nursing education: how to receive emergency cases, treat the patient in the intensive care unit, and deal with the patient upon arriving at the hospital in various conditions like accidents, etc.
Q: How do you view private hospitals in Yemen? A: This question should be addressed to the Ministry of Health. But from my experience, many private hospitals do major operations without intensive care units or blood banks, for example. I am hoping now that the energy and activity of the new Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah Nasher will solve the problems of the private sector.
Q: Could you tell us more about the cooperation with foreign medical organizations? A: During the ’80s we had a foreign visitor almost every two weeks with different specialties. With the support of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the new Minister of Health, I m trying to bring back what we have done. We now have a very good connection with a Dutch team of plastic surgeons who will visit Yemen twice yearly. The Canadians and Austrians will also give us much assistance. So I am now working with international groups who will help us in training, education, and will provide modern medical instruments and equipment. They will also train Yemeni doctors in their hospitals for short courses. There are many countries who want to help us and with which we can cooperate. There will be 4 or 5 medical delegations coming to Yemen next year. This is not an official sort of cooperation, but has been organised with various medical non-governmental associations and organizations.
Q: What kind of obstacles do you face during your work in Al-Thawra Hospital? A: The main and major problem in our health service now is the administration, the organization, and the understanding of the different people concerned of the importance of health services. The Minister of Health is now putting this as a priority to solve. First of all, we must have a good administration, then we look for professionals who can administrate, then we will bring in the proper facilities.
Dr. Mohammed Hadi Salem, M.D., is an American consultant of thoracic surgery. He is a member of the visiting PFP team. Q: How do you think the Yemeni doctors will benefit from this symposium? A: We had spent two weeks with our Yemeni colleagues seeing patients, operating on patients, and participating in the first medical symposium bringing Yemeni and an international team of doctors together. The PFP team has been to other countries as well to work with their doctors. The whole idea is to share the team’s experience with the Yemeni people. Naturally, we brought some supplies, medical textbooks, education material like video films and so on. I am very pleased to see that the standards of the surgeons with whom I worked at al-Thawra Hospital are really quite good. The medical students who attend the rounds and the junior staff ask excellent questions. They learned quite well at their medical schools. The director of Al-Thawra Hospital has done a magnificent job, considering that this is an over 500-bed teaching hospital, which is quite difficult to manage not only here, but in the US as well.
Q: How many operations did you perform in al-Thawra Hospital during the two weeks of your visit? A: I can’t tell you exactly, but there is a number of operations that were done by Dr. Al-Ahmer, the Chief surgeon and other surgeons. But more important was to examine and make rounds on patients as well as attending the conference early in the morning where they discussed patients who came to the hospital’s emergency room. We also lectured to medical students and spent some time with them.
Q: As a specialist doctor, how do you see the condition of medicine in Yemen? A: I believe that the trend of medical education, which is crucial, should have emphasis on public health. Preventive medicine is as important as treating the patient; you remember the Arabic adage “prevention is better than cure.” In the US the emphasis is on preventive medicine. People should not have much rich food, should exercise more, should not take in alcohol and should not smoke. This applies all over the world. I do not believe in the term third world countries. We are all developing countries. Some countries may be more developed than others.
Q: I understand that you made some suggestions to the American ambassador in Sanaa. What were they? A: I have suggested to the US Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. David Newton that the US may donate M.A.S.H hospitals to Yemen which were used during the Vietnam war. They are small inflatable rubber hospitals you can put anywhere in the country. They usually have an operating room, X-ray facilities, few beds, sterilization equipment, a small pharmacy, etc. Everything is made of made of rubber to be inflated like a big balloon. I also suggested to the Ambassador that the US should donate mobile clinics. They are like big trucks that can move from one place to another, which also house a small X-ray machine, a lab, a pharmacy, etc. Dr. Abdulnasser Munibari is a cardiology assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Sana’a University .
Q: How did the seminar go? A: The idea of the symposium is to share ideas between the Yemeni and the PFP doctors. It was prepared one month ago, and input was received from our colleagues at Al-Thawra hospital and from the PFP members. Each speaker was selected after being vetted by the scientific committee composed of some of the university’s staff. The main topic at the beginning of the symposium was concerned with emergency medicine and the expertise at Al-Thawra Hospital. The papers also handled some difficulties facing Al-Thawra Hospital staff. What was impressing was the attendance of the female doctors and nurses which exceeded 60% of the audience.
Q: How many operations did the PFP doctors do in Sana’a? A: Physicians for Peace are familiar to us. This is not their first visit to Yemen. Every time they visited Yemen, they came with a different promotional aspect. Last year they performed cardiac surgery. This year the concept is a little different. They are now concentrating on the nursing aspect and on the concept of continuous medical education. Mainly complicated chest surgeries were performed as well as plastic surgeries.
Dr. Glenn C. Nye, M.D. is the head of the visiting PFP team
Q: Could you tell us about Physicians For Peace? A: Physicians for Peace is an international organization of health-care professionals. We travel about the world, contributing to the development of health care in any of the countries that like to invite us. This current team consists of physicians, nurses and technicians from the US. We also have a plastic surgeon from Egypt and another one from Jordan. Our teams consists of what we consider the best group of people from various countries. They are usually chosen to be best qualified for the situation of the country we go to.
Q: How many times have you been here in Yemen? A: This is the fifth time. We did three scout trips and this is our third working mission. This is the first time we organize a conference and we did some work and teaching at the hospital.
Q: How many people are in this PFP team? A: This team consists of 13 people. We have a cardiologist, a cardiac technologists, a trauma surgeon, 3 plastic surgeons, a thoracic surgeon, a nursing operating room specialist, a respiratory therapist, an intensive care nurse, and other specialists.
Q: What did you concentrate on in this symposium? A: We did not focus on the operations. We focused on teaching techniques and teaching standards of care that will improve the performing of operations. The hand washing technique, for instance, is critically important to control the infections in any country in the world, including the US. I learned things in this conference that I did not know one year ago.
Q: How do you evaluate the field of medicine in Yemen? A: The field of medicine in Yemen is full of very bright people. Medicine in this country seems to take the brightest and most energetic people. We are trying to improve the situation where they can improve the care of patients. There is obviously many more people per health care professional than there is in the US. So there is a lot of demand on health care which needs to be continuously expanded and improved.