HARGEISA — A team of surgical staff have donated their time to perform free cataract eye and cochlear implant surgeries through a partnership between Kuwait based Al-Manhal Islamic Societies’ Al-Manhal Hospital (ex. Hargeisa City Hospital) in Hargeisa and UAE’s Red Crescent Authority (RCA) for the last four days.
The announcement has attracted variant degrees of vision loss and deaf patients of more than 1000 people traveling from as far as Kenya’s northern states, Ethiopia’s Somali region, the deserts of Djibouti and even Somalia’s lawless capital, Mogadishu, as well as all regions of Somaliland.
Of the 1000 that were registered, more than 400 patients were examined, consisting of patients with minor eye and hearing problems, to those with complete hearing and sight loss.
While local doctors such as Dr Mohammud Ahmed Shine, the director of Al-Manhal hospital, performed critical eye operations for more than 400 people. The UAE team led by ENT (ear, nose & throat) consultant and expert, Dr Mazen Mohammad Al Hajri surgically implanted an electronic cochlear implant on at least four deaf Somalis, including Safiyyah Nasruddin, 22, of Mogadishu.
All four deaf individuals were treated through tympanoplasty, by using tissues under the skin around the ear to reconstruct the eardrum and then electronic hearing device was placed behind the ear (external) and under the skin (intracutaneous). If the treatment was to be performed abroad, it is said to be worth more than $22,000 (USD), a prize majority of the Somalis can not afford.
This was first such operation in Somaliland, but certainly not the last, as Abu Dhabi’s emir, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the head of UAE’s Red Crescent Authority declared his commitment to improving the health of needy Somalis.
The Emirati team also handed out hundreds of hearing aids to patients who showed up for this free clinic.
Hargeisa city hospital was renamed Al-Manhal hospital in 2006 after Kuwait based NGO, Al-Manhal Islamic Society, decided to fund and run the hospital. The hospital has since performed 10,000 cataract eye surgeries, 170,000 basic medical treatments and the hospital has Maternity services as well as children, general medical units, oesteology department and operating theatres. The hospital has since became the primary hospital for Hargeisa’s 900, 000 population.
In the last four years, Al-Manhal Society has managed to build four hospitals in Somaliland; Hargeisa, Burao, Erigavo and in Las Anod. Al-Manhal Hopsital’s health administrator told Somalilandpress’s Abdiqani Baynah, the hospitals have since improved the level of health standards in the country.
Aside from these hospitals, Al-Manhal Society has carried out hundreds of similar critical eye surgeries in Somaliland and Somalia.
At a dinner reception held in Hargeisa last night, the mayor, Mr. Hussein Mohammud Ji’ir and Somaliland’s health minister, Mr. Ahmed Hassan Ali welcomed the medical teams from Al-Manhal and Emirates’ RCA.
“Tonight I am here to thank our Arab brothers who made the long journey here to help our people,” Mr. Ahmed said.
“Al-Manhal Society’s hospitals in the country have greatly benefited the people in the region, their services are fair and mandates access to all regardless of their age, class or social status. All are treated equal and with dignity. I wish to say thank you. I’m also here to extend a certificate of appreciation to Dr Mazen, for playing major role in the cochlear implant surgeries and for the overall achievements of RCA,” he added.
In the end, the doctors at Al-Manhal Society and United Arab Emirates’ RCA have agreed that there was need for a hearing centre in the region and plan to open one in Hargeisa. Somalilandpress’s Abdiqani Baynah has also learned, another medical team specialising in hearing loss will be arriving in Hargeisa in the next two weeks from UAE.
United Arab Emirates is not the only Arab state helping Somaliland’s desperate health sector, last month, the son of Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah arrived in the Somaliland town of Sheekh and promised to renovate and fully equip an abandon Soviet constructed hospital at a cost of $1.5 million. The hospital will come directly under the Red Crescent of Kuwait and will be renamed after the Emir’s own wife. The renovation is expected to begin in the next few months (see Kuwaiti Prince arrives in Somaliland).
The United Arab Emirates is regarded as the most Somali-friendly nation in the Arab world, thousands of them live and work there, almost the $1 billion they send back home annually is channeled through the UAE and according to reports, only the Iranians export more goods from Dubai than the Somalis.
When Abdiqani talked to a number of patients, they all expressed their deepest appreciation and gratitude to the Al-Manhal Society, the Emir of Abu Dhabi, UAE and Dr Mazen.