I have just come back from the United Kingdom to my beloved yet still-besieged city of Gaza. During my 20 days visit to the UK (from 16th July until 3rd August 2019), I visited the historic city of Oxford where I was able to catch the final day of the EBM-LIVE 19 Conference. After that my schedule was very busy with useful meetings and talks.
Glasgow council chambers and was welcomed by 4 MPs and councillors. We discussed how to support Palestinians, especially in Gaza, by campaigning to lift the siege and the possibility of twinning the municipality of Gaza.
Dr Ibtahim Khadra – Associate Professor at Strathclyde University – and discussed with him the chances for getting more of our students to do postgraduate courses and receive grants.
Scottish Society of Art where we discussed how art and films can highlight the daily suffering of Palestinians. Also how films and art can help overcome the siege, by improving people’s mood.
I was also invited to give the following talks:
Clinical auditing and health service quality improvement by the Upper GI surgery department at UCLH.
Pain and palliative care issues at the Lancet Journal by Executive Editor Dr Tamara Lucas.
This trip was one of the most yielding and outstanding scientific trips I’ve had. Finally, I grab this opportunity to reiterate my sincere thanks and esteemed gratitude for FQMS and its management team. The timely financial extended to me during this trip by all, especially Khaled and Rita, and for their kindness and continued support.
Eyad was part of our postgraduate training programme for 2 years at King’s College London Hospital in orthopaedic surgery. He returned to Palestine in 2016 and now works at the Arab Care Hospital in Ramallah.
“I had huge benefit from my training. King’s College is a trauma centre, so I was able to increase my experience in orthopaedic trauma, as well as my specialty training as I did fellowship in knee and shoulder surgery. It was great experience. I learnt a lot!
When I went back home I started to apply things I learnt clinically. In the past there was no shoulder and advanced knee surgery, so any case had to be transferred outside Palestine. So to some extent I have reduced the number of cases that have needed to be transferred.
In the future, I’m planning to engage myself in the general sector to continue to reduce the number of transferred cases; also if I can I will help in teaching. Also I will continue to develop myself and to have new experiences, so I can help our people.”
“Throughout my training years in general radiology, I started to hear about a state-of-the-art branch of radiology called ‘interventional radiology’. In this branch, major interventional procedures are performed under image guidance.
Unfortunately, there are very few training opportunities in this field available in the Arab World. In Palestine, it’s much worse as only a few basic procedures are performed. This motivated me to apply through Juzoor and FQMS to do my subspeciality training at King’s College Hospital in London.
During the past year, I have learnt to do many procedures. From basic ones, like biopsies, to peripheral vascular angioplasties. During the upcoming year, I will get more training in oncological procedures and perform trans-arterial chemoembolisation (TACE) and aortic procedures (EVAR and TEVAR).
My plan, after I finish training, is to set up an interventional radiology practice in one of the main Palestinian hospitals. Through this I can reduce the suffering of my patients. Before they would’ve had to either get a more invasive procedure, like an amputation, or travel outside Palestine to get the required interventional radiology procedure.”
“I am Maher, a recent medical graduate of Al Quds University from Bethlehem. For 3 consecutive years I used the Ramallah student accommodation during my clinical training years at university.
I am so grateful to have been able to find a place where I could study and do the medical rotations of my choice without having to worry about wasting time and money in transportation each day.
I made a lot of friends from different year levels. We shared tips about studying and how to deal with the patients; which benefited me a lot. Our requests were always met and whatever problem we faced we always found help.
Read about Ayman’s experience of our Gaza bus programme:
“My name is Ayman, I’m a 4th year medical student at the Islamic University of Gaza. I would like to thank the FQMS staff. They were kind enough to pay for our transportation expenses, making our lives much easier.
I honestly think that this funding made the majority – if not all – of my colleagues able to get to the European Hospital. It wouldn’t have been possible without it, because other forms of transport are too expensive for us.
In the beginning of my 4th year, my father asked me if the buses we were getting were paid. I didn’t know back then, which is why I didn’t know what to say when my father said, “I don’t think we will be to afford your transportation expenses.” Luckily thanks to your support this wasn’t a problem.
I am truly grateful for what you have done for us and I hope you continue on doing this awesome act of kindness.”
Read about Mohammed’s experience receiving a FQMS bursary. He is a student at IUG.
“Firstly, I want to thank FQMS for their concern about supporting the medical students in Gaza strip, especially in the current difficult economic situation, which we have been suffering from.
By receiving my bursary, it alleviated some of the financial burden required for medical school, which, in turn helped and encouraged me to focus more on my studying.
I have a family of six live in a house that has 4 rooms, my father works in Al Shifa Hospital in the maintenance department, my big brother graduated from IT college, my mother is a housewife, my other brother and sister are still studying in school.
I wanted to study medicine as it’s one of the most important Humanitarian fields and studying it gives me an opportunity to help myself firstly and then other people. In my opinion, I think that we have to work on stimulating the healing process of our bodies instead of the concentration on the management of diseases.
By receiving this bursary I can continue in my journey hopefully to work in research to provide an actual way of being healthy.
Five doctors from Oxford travelled to Gaza for an 8 day trip, from 28th October to 4th November 2018, to work alongside local teams. Providing an intensive programme of specialty teaching to the final-year medical students from the Islamic University of Gaza and Al Azhar University.
The trip consisted of 3 parts:
Teaching at the patients’ bedside and in small group simulations for 123 students from both universities. The specialities taught included paediatrics, obstetrics, trauma, primary care and internal medicine.
Training for the teaching assistants and junior doctors who run the medical student teaching all year-round, focussing on how to deliver effective medical education.
Quality Improvement in Healthcare symposium, which provided an opportunity for the medical students to present their quality improvement projects and receive feedback on their work.
Prof. Andrew Wilkinson – Neonatology
Dr. Debbie Harrington – Obstetrics
Dr. Rebecca Ingliss – Intensive Care
Dr. Mike Pike – Paediatric Neurology
Dr. Richard Harrington – General Practice
Sadly 5 additional members of our team were unable to join us, as they did not receive their permits from the Israeli authorities in time. We dearly hope they will be able to come next year.
The visiting team was very ably supported by Dr. Anwar Alshaihkhalil, Dr. Bettina Botcher and Dr. Amir Abukaresh. We are very grateful for their kindness and hospitality and the many hours of work they put in to make the trip possible.
Quality Improvement Symposium
Dr. Bettina Bottcher and Dr. Khamis Elessi have set up a programme to support and supervise the medical students to audit and improve the quality of care across Gaza. Each time we visit Gaza it is evident that this initiative is gathering momentum and starting to have a tangible impact. During our trip it was a pleasure to be able to support their efforts and provide a forum for their students to present their work.
This year seven medical students presented their quality improvement projects to an audience of doctors, nurses and students from across Gaza. Ms Afnan Kamel AbuFoul was awarded the prize for the best presentation and all of the student presenters received letters of acknowledgement.
Two of our visiting team also gave presentations on the theme of quality improvement:
Prof. Andrew Wilkinson discussed his work as part of a large international collaboration to decrease rates of infection in neonatal intensive care units.
Dr. Rebecca Ingliss spoke about the recent Lancet Commission Report on High Quality Health Systems.
Based on the student feedback, one of the most popular simulation stations we run is the trauma station. We use silicone prosthetics and synthetic blood to recreate a range of injuries, from burns and gunshot wounds to open femur fractures.
Using simulation, the students get the opportunity to manage severe trauma cases in a safe and controlled environment. The emphasis is on working together as a team and on learning to implement basic stabilisation measures.
With the help of actors to play both the patients and their families, we recreate the high-stress, frenetic atmosphere of the emergency room. The students get to practise managing distressed family members with kindness and compassion.
Management of Common Obstetric Emergencies
2017 was the first year we were able to include a doctor with obstetric expertise on the visiting Oxford team. This was received very enthusiastically by the students.
This year, Dr. Debbie Harrington and Dr. Bettina Bottcher renewed their collaboration, producing another busy programme of ward and simulation-based training. During their sessions there is a strong focus on communication skills, both between healthcare professionals and with patients and their families.
This year for the first time they were able to expand the teaching sessions to include the whole multi-disciplinary obstetric team, including doctors, nurses and midwives.
We were hugely impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the medical students we encountered during our trip. They are testament to the fantastic work that both Al Azhar and IUG medical schools are carrying out.
It was a significant setback that half of our planned team of doctors were unable to join because they were not issued their Israeli permits in time. Nevertheless, those of us who were able to make it were very pleased with what we were able to achieve, providing general and specialist clinical teaching to all of the final-year medical students in Gaza.
We are indebted to FQMS and IMET2000 for their support for our trip.
I think there is no place to do your elective course better than Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Also I got to experience electives in Jordan university Hospital and Ruby Memorial Hospital, USA. My educational trip was amazing from its first day to the last. I had a lot of new experiences, made new friends, saw great places and experienced different cultures. It was a great trip!
On Thursday June 21st, I travelled via Erez crossing border after months of waiting. Most of Gazan people do this every time they want to travel abroad.
When I reached the Jordanian capital, Amman, I started my first short elective course in General surgery department under supervision of Dr Al-Muhtaseb. I was with a group of lovely Jordanian students at Jordan University Hospital. I saw many new operations and the supervisor doctor gave me and my colleagues the chance to be more involved, e.g. taking history, physical examinations for patients and the opportunity to do my first scrub-in and work as an assistant in the operating room.
As I had to wait at least 2 months for the US visa interview if I applied from Gaza because the Israeli restrictions on the Erez crossing border. I applied for it from Amman while doing my elective there.
In the middle of July, my trip to US started. When the plane landed at JFK airport/New York then to West Virginia, where I did my second 4-weeks elective course.
New system, new people, new culture, everything was amazing with a great supervisor Dr Alkhouli in the cardiology department, seeing the patients in the clinic, Cath lab (catheterization laboratory) and in the floor (in-patient) as well. I saw many new procedures especially in structural interventional cardiology.
The last course at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the top hospitals in the USA, was incredible. It has more than 1300 bed and more than 100 Operating rooms, I did my third course in trauma surgery department with Dr Kaafarani and his hard-working team. It was a busy daily schedule starting with in-patient round then spending long hours in Emergency room, Operating room and in the clinic. With a daily of many educational conferences, and weekly grand rounds where great visiting doctors came from all over USA. It was a great experience.
It was a great experience! I made new friends and many connections there and was able to socialise and attend events especially at the weekends. I remember that I went with the lady (who I rented my room from) to her aunt’s 95th birthday party to celebrate with her family there. It was a great day.
I’m really grateful for FQMS for its continued support and its generosity, without that I wouldn’t do my elective course.