THE belief that it is a “human obligation to assist the people of Somalia”, is the driving force behind the efforts of Qatar Red Crescent volunteers offering medical expertise……..
THE belief that it is a “human obligation to assist the people of Somalia”, is the driving force behind the efforts of Qatar Red Crescent volunteers offering medical expertise in that country at the moment, according to a volunteers’ leader.
Despite 17 years of armed conflict affecting the country, there are still people in Somalia who must perform their daily jobs to help the hundreds and thousands of people suffering as a result of the ongoing war.
Some of these people work in the Keyshany hospital, in the northern outskirts of Mogadishu, and operated by the Somali Red Crescent.
The hospital has been functioning since December 1991, and with the help of the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) team of four doctors has been working there since August 2007.
Gulf Times spoke with their team leader, Dr Fouad Hassaan, about the situation in Mogadishu, the challenges of working there, and the daily routine for his team, which includes orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Mohammed; general surgeon, Dr Amin; and field anaesthetist, Dr Yousaf.
Dr Hassaan explained that an average day at the hospital includes working between 8.30am and 2.30pm, either conducting surgery or working with patients who have recently undergone operations.
“However, for the past few weeks due to the surge in war-wounded patients we have had to schedule many operations in the evening,” he said, adding that the team is on call 24 hours to deal with any emergencies, an occurrence which has sadly been happening quite frequently due to the recent spurt in fighting.
The most common procedure the doctors perform is the removal of bullets. Dr Hassaan said that the biggest challenge for the team is the unpredictable nature of the injuries they deal with on a daily basis, and the need to take drastic decisions, such as the amputation of destroyed limbs.
And the recent closure of the only maternity hospital in Mogadishu has meant that the team has been performing caesarean operations for pregnant women who have been suffering from complications.
Dr Hassaan described the most worrying moment of his tenure in Mogadishu as happening three weeks ago, when fighting broke out close to the hospital and the risk of stray bullets hitting the building was a serious concern. No harm came to the hospital in the end, but there were a number of patients they had to treat following the fighting.
“The kind of people we assist are mostly from poor backgrounds who are forced to be outdoors to seek money, food or shelter, and are thus exposed to the risk of injury from the conflicts,” he explained.
He stated that QRC symbolises “an organisation of courageous and bold initiatives with a sense of responsibility to serve humanity” and expressed hope that people in Qatar would become more aware and offer their support to the projects they are pursuing, saying they should be “proud and supportive of QRC and its achievements in the region.”
“The most rewarding aspect of our job is the Somali people’s expressions of appreciations of our humble and modest assistance,” claimed Dr Hassaad, who said that he expects that the team will remain at the hospital for at least one more year.
If you are a doctor and interested in volunteering with the Qatar Red Crescent, please contact the International Programs Department for further information on 4435111 or e-mail: [email protected]