Providing efficient health service across the country so as to secure the health of the society is one of the Eritrea government’s priorities. The impressive achievements registered in the health sector are vivid demonstration of the government’s efforts. Eritrean nationals in Diaspora on their part are also engaged in organizing foreign experts in different fields of professions especially in medicine to come to Eritrea and share their expertise. This has created a viable ground for local and expatriate experts to exchange ideas and foster cooperation among one another. As part of such efforts, a group of Italian doctors led by an Eritrean national, Mr. Alem Demoz came to Eritrea last week to carry out complicated heart surgeries. Following is the interview Mr. Alem conducted with Shabait:
Can you tell us a little about the visit of the Italian doctors?
The visit of this medical group is part of the continuous efforts on the part of the government as well as some nationals to upgrade the capacity of health technicians in the country. Another objective is to conduct sophisticated surgeries in collaboration with experienced foreign professionals. The Italian medical group comprising of 15 doctors conducted surgeries on several patients in the Orota Referral Hospital for a week. The doctors had come from Udine Hospital, a well known heart transplant hospital.
How many patients were treated?
We were able to perform heart surgery on eight adult patients. These patients weren’t randomly selected; it was done with the consultation of local and foreign physicians. The critical patients were given priority.
How did you get involved in cardiac treatment activities?
After my son passed away due to heart problem, I took the initiative to help people with such cases. Though I am not a physician myself, I decided to actively participate in organizing cardiac treatment programs.
When was your first visit to Eritrea with such a group of professionals?
I began coming with the ‘One heart, one world’ group from Padova since 2004 until now. This group is engaged in conducting cardiac surgery on children. With the collaboration of German-based group, Hamer-Forum, and other partners the program is progressing successfully. Besides, a modern machine that assists in treating cardiac problems without surgery was installed last year. About 12 children were treated within two days with the help of the machine.
Are there any possibilities that these visiting doctors or experts could stay for longer periods and conduct more surgeries?
Inviting foreign experts could alleviate temporary problems but it can not bring a lasting solution to the existing shortages. Of course, we could invite many foreign physicians from different counties to promote knowledge on the complicated task of heart surgery. Nevertheless, our primary aim is to help in accelerating the government’s efforts to establish a local cardiac specialist unit.
What do your future plans include in this case?
In all my visits here, the foreigners that come with me were always very much impressed with the dedication and humility of the health workers. I have full faith that we will achieve our objective with continued commitment of local staff members.