Yemeni Heart Specialists Meet their International Counterparts [Archives:1997/49/Reportage]
The Second Yemeni Cardiac Conference was held in Sanaa during 2-4 December. A number of Yemeni and international doctors took part, submitting papers on various topics in this vital branch of medicine. Bin Sallam of Yemeni Times met several of these doctors and filed the following report. Excerpts:
Dr. Mohammed Bamashmoos is a Yemeni cardiologist, currently studying and working in Italy. Q: What are your impressions about this conference? A: I hope such a conference will be held annually because it had been of high standards comparable to conferences held in Europe and the US.
Q: Why have you left Yemen to work abroad? A: I went to Italy to do postgraduate studies in cardiac catheterization, which is a very useful procedure in Yemen. I have been in Italy for 4 years now, getting an in-depth training. I hope that, upon finishing my studies, I’ll return to serve my country and people.
Q: What is the topic of the paper you submitted at the conference? A: I submitted 3 different papers. The first one was about pediatric heart diseases, which are often difficult to diagnose and treat surgically. My paper dealt mainly with non-surgical treatment or what is called interventional cardiology. Unstable angina is the topic of my second paper. In the third paper, I dealt with treating arrhythmia by using an intravenous treatment.
Q: What are the most common heart diseases in Yemen? A: The most common disease is rheumatism, especially among children. There are several causes that lead to this disease, and people in general tend not to see a doctor until the illness is at an advanced stage. Rheumatism is followed by thrombosis, angina pectoris, and arrhythmia.
Q: What are the negative effects of qat? A: Qat has several negative effects on various parts of the body, not only the heart. It causes a rise in heart beat.
Q: Are there enough resources in Yemen to open a specialized heart hospital? A: For anyone to start contemplating such a project, making money should not be the main objective. The most important thing is professional competence, which is very much available in Yemen. There are many good Yemeni doctors, both inside Yemen and abroad. There must also be well-trained nurses and other medical support staff. Next comes the modern medical equipment, and with it the technical staff that is capable of operating and maintaining them.
Q: Any last comment? A: Yemeni doctors can benefit a lot from the knowledge and expertise of their international colleagues in such conferences. Studying does not end with getting your M.Sc. or even Ph.D. You have to continuously acquire new information and knowledge.
Dr. Mario Carminati is a pediatric cardiologist at the Pasquinucci Hospital in Italy. Q: What is your contribution to this conference? A: I gave a lecture on interventional transcatheter procedures in cardiology and congenital heart defects.
Q: Have you made any suggestions to improve the health care situation in Yemen? A: I discussed with my Yemeni colleauges the possibility of sending a couple of Yemeni doctors to train in Italy on cardiology and cardiac surgery and anesthesiology for one year, say. We’ll be very flexible regarding the number of trainee doctors, depending on the response we get.
Q: Are you planning to treat Yemeni children with heart diseases in Italy? A: We do not have immediate plans. But we have programs to treat many children from Albania, the former Yugoslavia, and Africa, based on the sponsorships provided by various international associations. We only request the cost of the medical procedures, the doctors and nurses work free of charge. If a charitable organization in Yemen is willing to partly finance the treatment of some Yemeni children in Italy, we’ll be more than willing to cooperate.
Dr. Othman Hussein Mutawalli is the head of the cardiology department at the King Fahad General Hospital, Saudi Arabia.
Q: How can a state of cooperation be achieved between Yemeni and Saudi hospitals? A: There has been continuous cooperation since some years ago. Yemenis coming to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment are treated like they were in their own country. About 30% of Yemeni patients receive free medical care in Saudi Arabia. We are very honored to be able to help them.
Dr. Arsalan Abdu Al-Kholeidi is a heart specialist from Hodeida.
Q: How have benefited from attending this conference? A: Not much happens in Hodeida by way of medical seminars or conferences, so it was quite interesting to take part in this conference. I am very curious to know the latest developments in cardiology, which has been made possible through this conference. I became acquainted with a lot of the modern techniques in surgery and medicine, and got to meet a number of top Yemeni and international heart specialists.
Q: What is the situation regarding medical care in Hodeida? A: It is a pity that Hodeida should remain neglected. It has to be provided with modern health care facilities. The other very important issue I’d like to stress is that doctors in Hodeida are deprived of scholarships to do postgraduate studies, whether abroad or in Yemen. The Ministry of Health allocates scholarships mainly to doctors in Sanaa. To follow through a potential scholarship , a doctor will have to remain in Sanaa for a long time, spend money, and deal with all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles.
Q: What are the heart diseases most prevalent in Hodeida? A: Diseases of the coronary artery have become widespread lately, even among young people in their 30s. Hypertension and rheumatic fever leading to heart rheumatism have also become prevalent. Children in particular are suffering more from heart rheumatism. Bad habits such as smoking and chewing qat, or bad psychological states due to the hard living conditions have a lot to do with the prevalence of heart diseases.
Q: What can be done to improve the health care situation in Yemen? A: There have to be some sort of a national health care system for those who cannot afford to go to private hospitals. The few state-owned hospitals are just not sufficient to take care of the large waiting lists.
Dr. Huda Ahmed Al-Shami is young Yemeni doctor and a graduate of Sanaa University who now works in the pediatric department at Al-Thawra General Hospital.
Q: Why have you participated in this conference? A: It is an excellent opportunity for Yemeni doctors to get acquainted with the most up-to-date medical advancements.
Q: What is the topic of the paper you submitted? A: My paper’s title is “strokes as a cause of death in Yemen.”
Q: How do you see the future of medicine in Yemen? A: I am very optimistic. There are many ambitious yo ung Yemeni doctors who are capable of advancing the profession. There has to be more attention given by the government There must also be more free health care available for all citizens. On their part, the peole will have to take a greater care for t heir health – smoking and chewing qat must be abandoned. People will have to eat more nutritional food.
Dr. Mohammed Saeed is a Yemeni doctor who has been living and working in the UAE for last 29 years.
Q: Why have you preferred to work abroad? A: The political situation then in the southern part of Yemen was not favorable, so I had to leave.
Q: How do you see the development of pediatric health care in Yemen? A: I think that the level of child medical care services needs to be re-evaluated. I also think that the private health sector in Yemen is quite commercial. There should be more emphasis on the quality of services provided. The doctors’ syndicate must play a bigger role in monitoring the doctors’ performance in private and public hospitals alike.
Q: What is the topic of your paper? A: I submitted a paper on the wide experience I have in using balloons to widen blood arteries which are usually constricted by rheumatic fever.
Q: What is required to establish a specialized heart center in Yemen? A: Many patients have to go abroad for treating ailments that could have been very easily treated in Yemen, provided that the proper facilities are available. There are many highly qualified Yemeni doctors who more than willing to work and help their fellow citizens.
Recommendations: At the end of the conference, the participants recommended the following: 1- emphasizing the importance of scientific research and giving it its due share in the state’s budget; 2- working to establish a specialized heart center in Yemen to provide much needed service in this field; 3- encouraging and supporting postgraduate research programs in the Yemeni colleges of medicine; 4- providing scholarships for young Yemeni doctors to improve their professional competence; 5- organizing training courses and inviting international specialist to deliver lectures; 6- opening channels of communications with Arab and international medical organizations and conferences; 7- conducting medical research on local health problems, especially the effects of qat; 8- implementing public health education programs, especially concerning the early diagnosis of heart diseases; and 9- coordinating and cooperating with doctors’ societies and syndicates to organize joint activities.