Christmas in Palestine

Chairman’s letter – December 2018

Christmas in Palestine

From the beautifully lit city of Bethlehem, the Golden Dome of Jerusalem, the ramparts of the old city and the ancient markets of Nablus I write to you. 

Life here is vibrant and colourful. However, as we know, after scratching the surface matters are much more complex and arduous.

Visiting the 2 medical schools in the West Bank, Al Quds and An Najah exposes the shortage of staff and the resource stretch in teaching facilities. The main Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem, Hebron and Ramallah are at breaking point. The demand is huge and the financial resources are very limited. 

Despite all this there is a strong sense of determination and optimism. Talent is abundant and so are the brains. I met 2 of our ‘alumni’ over the last 2 days. Naji Mousa and Bashar Jaber are 2 recipients of FQMS postgraduate training support, now proudly playing significant roles in treatment of female cancers and colon cancer respectively. FQMS continues to support medical education here.

On a sad note I, and the wider FQMS family, mourn a wonderful man and supporter of Palestinian medical education, John Beavis. John passed away a few days ago. He took me on my first trip to Palestine in 2011 and held my hand as I fretted about going through Israeli immigration in Tel Aviv. John is not a man to be forgotten. 

The FQMS annual gala is on the 23rd March 2019. We decided to move it to a Saturday and hope that you will enjoy it more being rested rather than exhausted after a week at work. I hope you’ll join us. We can’t stress enough how even a £10 donation adds up to a significant amount. 

Please keep your generosity going and send us any donations, however large or small, even in advance of the dinner.

See you on the 23rd March.

Khaled Dawas FRCS
Chairman of Board of Trustees

Adeola, surgeon at UCLH, and her trainee, Naji, who’s training in London was supported by the Juzoor partnership.
Hadeel and students

Hadeel’s update – sponsored students

Sponsored Students

I am thrilled to tell you about an event which I organized together with two other mentees from Palestine, Asma and Shahed. We decided to host a volunteering activity to bring mentees together around a good cause. In particular, we volunteered to help children who are going through cancer. This is the first of a series of social activities which we will organize in Palestine.

We enjoy playing, dancing and singing with 20 children with cancer. Our goal was to make the children happy and to bring a smile to their faces. In addition to offering moral support to the children, we also provided material support by offering breakfast to the patients. We really enjoyed our time with them and we are proud that we succeeded in lifting their spirits.

Read about undergraduate scholarships here

Accommodation update 2018

Al Quds accommodation update 2018

Bahera – recent graduate from Bethlehem

“I used the Ramallah flats for 3 consecutive years. I am so grateful to have been able to find a place where I can study and attend the medical rotations of my choice without having to worry about wasting time and money in transportation each day. By staying in the flats I made a lot of friends from different year levels. Our requests were always met and whatever problem we faced we always found help.”

Duaa – 4th year medical student from Hebron

“It helped me a lot both financial and physically it’s so difficult to transporting from Bethlehem to Ramallah daily, so it’s a great idea to find an apartment 10 mins from the hospital.”

Haya – 4th year medical student from Jericho

“I spent 7 weeks in total at Ramallah flats for my medicine and bridging rotations. At first, the idea of sharing a room with new people seemed intimidating, but as I got to know them I made new friends with whom I studied, cooked and laughed! It was a nice experience especially that I did not have to waste most of my time and energy in public transportations! I wish there will be more places next year as our numbers are increasing.”

Suha – 5th year medical student from Tulkarem

“I did a cardiac surgery rotation for 2 weeks in Hebron at Al-Ahli hospital. I used our faculty flats in Hebron. There’s nothing better than having a room to sleep and study without spending your time travelling between cities.”

Read more about Al Quds student accommodation programme here

Student using the accommodation

Sundus’ experience – Al Quds accommodation

Student using the accommodation

I am Sundus, a 4th year medical student from Tubas. This is my first week at the Hebron flats.

I am so excited to be part of this experience. My older friends always talk about how good this experience is, how they make study groups, cook and go to hospitals together.

I submitted an electronic form to the accommodation committee and they found accommodation for my month rotation.

Tubas is very far away and I always wanted to experience the teaching methods in Hebron hospitals so I am very glad that I could use the flats.

I worry for next year. We are increasing in numbers and need more rooms. This year was really crowded, as more students needed accommodation.

Read more about Al Quds student accommodation programme here

Students using the accommodation

Mahmud’s experience – Al Quds accommodation

I am Mahmoud, a 6th year medical student from Jenin. This is my 3rd year using the flats.

In my personal experience, living away from my family proved to be difficult at first. Being able to stay at the flats with my fellow colleagues and friends really helped me in my studies. I was less homesick when surrounded by students who are also far away from their families.

It is always better to wake up at 7:30 to reach the hospital than having to wake up at 5 or even 4 am in order to make it on time! This way I have more energy and I am more focused.

Read more about Al Quds student accommodation programme here

IUG students

Clinical skills laboratory at IUG

Thanks to the Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, we funded over £6,000 worth of clinical skills equipment for IUG medical school. This equipment is used by more than 600 students. The laboratories are in constant use and much of the equipment was out of date and dilapidated. This makes the new equipment all the more important.

Read about how the new equipment has benefited the students from Dr Anwar Alshaikhkhalil, Vice Dean of IUG Faculty of Medicine

infant choking

“Simulation training offers the learner an opportunity to develop and enhance skills that are necessary for use in clinical practice. In the Faculty of Medicine of the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), students regularly train and learn in the clinical skills laboratory. More than 400 students from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 benefit from this opportunity on several occasions each year.

In 3rd year, students learn and practice basic nursing and medical skills such as intravenous cannulation, blood taking, blood pressure measurements or intramuscular injections.

Use of the skills lab in 4th year, focuses on training in medical examination skills. As well as more advanced practices, such as urinary catheterisation, lumbar puncture or placing chest drains.

For 5th and 6th years, the skills laboratory is used for training in obstetrics and gynaecology, more advanced emergency, surgical and medical skills. Also advanced adult, paediatric and neonatal life support skills.

injection

Another important aspect of the clinical skills laboratory is that it enables teamwork practise. Students can work together to achieve one common goal. Regular simulation teaching with clinical scenarios also take place in the skills laboratory.

Finally, the skills laboratory is used for clinical exams for 3rd to 6th year students. OSCE style examinations are conducted within the clinical skills laboratory.

Many thanks to FQMS for funding the purchase of the needed equipment in the skill lab on behalf of IUG. These models will be used all year round for training the medical students and examining the students’ skills during OSCE examination.”

Read more about equipment purchased for the medical schools with your help

Students using the anatomy models

Anatomy models at Al Quds University

Al Quds Medical School (AQU), established in 1994 as the first Palestinian medical school. It was deficient in cadavers for Anatomy teaching. This stems from cultural norms which prohibit cadaveric dissection.

Accordingly, AQU resorted to computer-assisted learning (CAL) in this topic and the use of diverse mannequins and models that match human anatomy topography. Procurement was not possible due to the prohibitive cost.

Luckily, and with the kind assistance of FQMS we managed to buy the initial batch of Anatomy manikins which served our Anatomy instruction till 2013, when the yearly intake of the medical school was around 60 students.

Students using the anatomy models

In 2013, the policy of the university made it imperative to increase the number of new enrollees to 150 and thereafter by yearly increments of 40, until we reached an intake of 300 students in 2017.

This imposed a heavy burden on our Anatomy facility coupled with the fact that many of the original models became useless from wear and tear over the years.

This necessitated the Faculty to establish a new Anatomy lab to accommodate the increased number of students and to replace a lot of the old models acquired since 1994.

Again, FQMS has miraculously come to our assistance by approving the purchase of new Anatomy models to equip the new lab.

The list of Anatomy models covered all the body parts and musculoskeletal bone structure. Without this new facility, the medical school would have found it difficult to teach the practical component of Anatomy discipline and this would have jeopardised the delivery quality of our curriculum.

In addition, the medical faculty delivers Anatomy teaching to Dental, Pharmacy and Nursing students thus putting a great burden and intense need for a second Anatomy lab with the installation of new purchased Anatomy items.

I have to register my sincere thanks and great appreciation for the assistance FQMS has provided and is still sustaining this help to AQU. Without this ironclad support Al Quds Medical School mission would have been hampered immensely.

Hani Abdeen BM. FRCP (UK). FCCP
Dean SoM Al-Quds University
Abu Deis – Jerusalem East
Palestine

Read more about equipment purchased for the medical schools with your help

Faiza

Faiza’s bursary

Read about Faiza’s bursary, which allowed her to continue training to become a doctor:

Faiza

“My name is Faiza, a 19-year-old Palestinian girl from Gaza. I am about to complete my second year at the General Medicine faculty of Al Azhar University of Gaza.

My dream to become a doctor was guided by my full awareness that it is a noble profession for serving humanity and the world we live in. I worked hard throughout my school years and graduated high school with a GPA of 98.8%. In 2016, I started my journey at the Medicine college. Medicine is a field that demands both hard work and good financial status.

Thankfully, my parents have supported my dream regardless the burden of my education costs, as they were both employed. They worked to provide my four siblings and me a good life and quality education.

It was all good until last year when unfortunately my mum lost her job which timed with the worsening of the situation in Gaza and my dad stopped receiving his full paycheque. My parents started to suffer.

No longer able to pay the requested tuition, I became seriously worried of the possibility that I might not be able to enter my final semester exams nor register for the summer courses of 2018.

Faiza’s bursary

I started to look for donations and sponsors and eventually I was referred to FQMS. When I received their response; I cannot describe the feeling of knowing that there is finally someone there to help.

I was able to enter my semester final exams and put all my focus into doing well and raising my GPA. All my courses I passed with great marks and I got the highest GPA since the beginning of my study here in Al Azhar!

I would like to thank FQMS for their support and kind consideration of my status. No words could ever explain the joy and gratefulness my family and I had when I received that email. Not everyone can realise what blessing it is to suddenly and out of nowhere have a major crisis worked out.

I cannot spoil the moment by thinking of the burden of the coming year’s tuition, as we must always believe that there is always a window of hope.”

Read more about student bursaries here

Ayman

Ayham’s bursary

Ayman

I decided to study medicine at university, because being a doctor means the future is full of hope. The hope that I can give it to people and make them suffer less from their diseases or injuries.

Once I achieve my degree and my internship in Gaza, I will specialise in brain surgeon. It’s a specialty that can help people here in Gaza, because people often have to travel to receive treatment and while people waiting for referrals and visas the diseases can get worse. I want do research and studies in this field and try to add something to it, something that will make the humanity suffer less and giving it the hope.

Unfortunately last year, my father died leaving me and my mother and 3 brothers. We live in a rented house, neither my brothers nor me nor my mother work. The only source of income is my father salary from the government. Two of us are studying at IUG and the other two are still at school. The tuition fees are very expensive. I was worried that maybe I could not continue with my dream of becoming a doctor.

Thank you for this money. We are all so happy that I was chosen. It helped me to enrol for the next semester at IUG, helping me to continue my way to becoming a doctor.

Read more about student bursaries here

Naji

Naji – postgraduate subspeciality training

Read about Naji, who received postgraduate subspeciality training in London:

Naji - postgraduate subspeciality training

“I started a two-year training programme in the Gynaecological Oncology Department in the UK in May 2016. In the beginning, I didn’t have high expectations about the quality of training I was going to have. But when I started my new post, I found that I had a great opportunity and I needed to get the maximum benefit out of it.

My training was mainly in the surgical management of women’s cancer at University College London Hospital (UCLH). It took me a short period until I felt like a member of the gynaecological oncology team. I can’t deny some difficulties at the beginning. With the support of my team and my FQMS mentor I managed to overcome them.

In a hospital like UCLH, I found highly skilled surgeons with a great amount of experience. They knew how to deal with trainees and transfer their experience to them. Also being in a city like London with a big population, exposed me to all kind of cases with good numbers. This helped me build up my experience and competence. In comparison, Palestine suffers from a lack of well-qualified trainers. Also due to the absence of big referral hospitals, the opportunities for good surgical gynaecological training are scare.

Now as I’m back home, I hope that I can use this training to contribute to raising the level of our healthcare system by transferring my experience and knowledge to new doctors.”

Read about the postgraduate training programme here