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The Eritrean Medical Association (ERIMA) 22nd Conference

The Eritrean Medical Association (ERIMA) has conducted its 22nd annual conference in Asmara Palace Hotel on the 18th March 2017, in which association members, representatives of different UN agencies, members of affiliated associations and other invited guests took part.

The Eritrean Medical Association was founded in 1994 with the objectives of safeguarding and protecting the rights and interests of the profession and its professionals (ERIMA members), ensuring the highest standard of professional ethics and practice, actively participating in the process of teaching and updating the knowledge and skills of medical work-force through collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners and actively participating in the formulation of national policies, protocols and guidelines concerning health in the nation.

Dr. Goitom Hagos, President of the association, opened the conference by addressing a memorial to their distinguished members who passed away. He acknowledged all the graduates of 2016 as new members of the ERIMA and requested them to play a remarkable role. He said that their enthusiasm will help them to come together as one and to achieve common goals as devoted and committed professionals in Eritrea. Dr. Goitom indicated that the association has been working to fulfil the above stated objectives with all its members and in partnership with the Ministry of Health.

The ERIMA is a sub-recipient of the Eritrean Global Fund and on this regard it receives funds for training of health professionals in the country to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. As part of the objectives achieved by the ERIMA, a new volume of journal was published by its research and publication committee. The journal aims to publish and disseminate scientifically rigorous health information of Eritrean and international significance that enables policy makers, researchers, and practitioners to be more effective in the improvement of the health of the Eritrean people.

Dr. Goitom appreciated the executive committee of the ERIMA for conducting regularly meetings on regular basis, implementing all the planned activities and for organizing the annual conference. He, further highlighted some future plans the Eritrean Medical Association wishes to realize in order to give enhanced continuity to the current activities. These include the establishment of a permanent head office, strengthening the Continuing Medical Education (CME), encouraging and proactively involving the ERIMA members in medical research projects, enhancing the activities of the ERIMA research and publication committee at national and international level, strengthening of the Fund Raising Committee, intensifying relations with sister associations and organizations within the country and abroad, and creating a link to enhance the participation of Eritrean physicians living abroad.

Dr. Goitom, at the end, expressed his gratitude to all of the participants, their sponsors and the Asmara Electric who made the event to come together efficiently.

Following a memorial service of the late members of the ERIMA, certificates of appreciation were awarded to their families.

As part of the ERIMA’s rationale, a series of research works by physicians on particular topics were presented. Dr. Saud Mohammed presented the Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) which is often associated with significant mortality rate. The study was taken with the objective of determining the major risk factors for DVT and coming up with recommendations on its prevention. DVT is the main cause of pulmonary embolism (PE). Though preventable, PE is the main cause of death worldwide. DVT is also a major health problem in Eritrea, according to Dr. Saud. In his concluding remarks, Dr. Saud pesented the result of their findings and forwarded some recommendations on the basis of their study.

Dr. Dawit Sereke, on his part, presented the prevalence of Ectopic Pregnancy in Orotta Referral Maternity Hospital. Every year some eight million women suffer pregnancy related complications and over half a million die worldwide. In developing countries, one woman in eleven may die of pregnancy related complications compared to one in 5000 in developed countries. Management of these type of pregnancies has changed dramatically over the years. Whereas ectopic pregnancy is well documented in industrialized countries, little research has been done on this gynecologic emergency in developing countries, especially in African countries. There is no data on the prevalence of ectopic pregnancy in Eritrea and there is no code for ectopic pregnancy in the Health Information System.

The study presented by Dr. Dawit was aimed at estimating the prevalence of ectopic pregnancy in Orotta Maternity Hospital, identifying the risk factors of ectopic pregnancy and knowing the main surgical intervention in the management of ectopic pregnancy. Dr. Dawit concluded by presenting the results of his study and recommended the measures that need to be taken.

Dr. Tekeste Fekadu presented the introduction of modern medicine to Eritrea and its impact on the health of the people. According to Dr. Tekeste, before the 18th BCE the epidemics in the region were neither identified nor described and as a result various travelers and discoverers who came to this region documented them as pestilences or plagues. And the objective of his study was to assess the impact of the introduction of modern medicine on the health of the people of Eritrea during the period of colonization.

Italy officially colonized Eritrea in January 1890 in midst of The Great Famine (1888-1892). Diseases of serious consequences during that time were: smallpox, cholera, typhus, dysentery, influenza, malaria, syphilis, and other tropical diseases. The measures taken by the Government of Italy in Eritrea, to prevent and control these diseases included Vaccination programs, decontamination and disinfection, separation of Whites from the Natives and isolation among others.

The research found that during the colonial era hospitals and clinics were constructed in all Commissariatos. The facilities were all equipped and staffed, and supplies of medicines and medicaments were adequate. Laboratories for diagnostic, research and vaccine production purposes were established in various places. Immunization programs were carried out and sanitary measures were taken in the urban areas; medical education was introduced in 1928 in Asmara for infermieri (dressers) for the first time.

Dr. Tekeste concluded his presentation saying that the prevalence of the epidemic diseases was reduced markedly, even though few of them increased.

Dr. Mahmud Mohammed presented the incidence and outcome of neonatal hypernatremic dehyderation (HND) with the objective of reviewing and determining factors associated with hypernatremic dehydration and determinants of outcome in neonates admitted to the National Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Orotta Pediatric Hospital (OPH). The study concluded that finding incidence of 2.4% and case fatality rate of 13% suggests that neonatal HND is a serious and life threatening disorder.

The researchers believed that it is preventable with early recognition and through management of breast feeding related difficulties. They also called health professionals to be aware of this disorder, and educate mothers about successful breast feeding after delivery, on warning signs of dehydration and consequences of inadequate breast feeding.

Following this, case reports on clinical and cytopathological findings of primary pulmonary sarcoma by Dr. Abiel Berhe and the rare site of Mycetoma by Dr. Mical Abrha were presented.

Dr. Alemseghed Isaack presented assessment of the trends of CD4 cell count after the initiation of Antireroviral Treatment (ART) on patients infected with HIV at Sembel follow-up clinic, Asmara. And the study found that the proportion of patients who failed to attain the minimum immunological response at 12 months in the low CD4 strata was only 12.4%. Patients with higher CD4 count returned to normal CD4 count, but with a decline at about 72 months after the initiation of ART. This is in line with the principles of HIV treatment that prioritizes those with low CD4 counts, but considering treatment at higher or regardless of CD4 cell counts to achieve satisfactory immunological response.

A final research paper on the Evaluation of the Haemodialysis adequacy on patient outcome among patients receiving Hemodialysis was presented by Dr. Yamane Seyum.

In the course of the conference, the participants conducted in-depth discussion on the papers presented and on other specific issues pertaining to health issues. The ERIMA conference was concluded by electing a new secretary and its members.

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