domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

SADR Ministry of Health hosts 26th Scientific Workshop on Health

In the administrative meeting hall of the Saharawi refugee camp of Smara, the Ministry of Health of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) brought together Saharawi doctors, nurses, and health specialists, as well as representatives from international NGOs to participate in the 26th Scientific Workshop on Health on Friday.

While the dust storm raging outside filled the meeting hall with oppressive powder, the 150-plus attendees looked on with interest and pride as the many health programs of the Saharawi refugee camps were detailed.

"The 24th of April is the National Day of Health," began Sid Ahmed Tayyib, the SADR Minister of Health. "It is a day for us all to reflect upon our level of training. A day to reflect as a team. We come together to recognize the efforts of all of the servants who work to improve the health of the Saharawi people on the local, national, or international level."

This year’s workshop, which touted the theme of "Health: Professional Preparation and Continual Training," built on last year’s meeting to include more participants, more projects, and higher standards. Medical specialists, both Saharawi and foreign, presented their research and projects from the past year before a panel of two
Saharawi judges, who evaluated the programs based upon their scientific merits and organization.

More than 15 different speakers gave 10-minute presentations on their work, which were followed by a five-minute period of defense of both their methods and results before questions from the audience and the judges.

Presentation topics ranged from depression to hyperglycemias to eye surgery to post-birth hemorrhaging to children’s wellness. Saharawi midwives, nurses, and doctors, NGO representatives, and health specialists from Spain, Norway, Greece, and Cuba all proudly displayed their results and defended their investigations.

At the end of the full-day of events, prizes of honorable mention were given to a dozen of the projects, while the two best presentations in the categories of "doctors" and "health specialists" were awarded the top prizes.

Sid Ahmed Tayyib closed the workshop insisting that all of the health professionals, both national and international, who work towards the improvement of the health of the Saharawis, improve their levels of coordination and professionalism.

On display
Before the defense of the projects, the attendees roamed the meeting hall, where they were able to view and discuss with professionals a number of displays on different medical fields in the camps.

Displays included exhibitions on prosthetic limbs, traditional medicines, and modern medicines fabricated in the camps.

This last process is carried out in the Mohamed Embarek Fakala Medicinal Production Lab. The lab was opened in 1996 and began producing in 1998. Today, the nine specialists in the lab produce more than 78 different medicines, including antibiotics, creams, pills, solutions, and even fortified shampoos and bath gels.

The lab is funded by two international organizations – The Saharawi Khaima from Italy and the Catalonian branch of Doctors of the World in Spain – and staffed by Saharawi chemical engineers and technicians.

"Those organizations give us the materials we need," said Mulay Mosud, a chemist who works in the labs, as he showed off an impressive display of medicines, "but we produce all of the medicines here in the camps."

"In 2003, we were at our highest production levels, but since then we have been unable to get sufficient primary materials to keep up that pace," he added.

The laboratory is located in the SADR National Hospital in the administrative Saharawi camp of Rabouni.

Also in attendance at the workshop was SADR Prime Minister Abdelqadar Talib Omar, who addressed the audience before the presentations began.

"Our sincere thanks to the many NGOs and other organizations who help us to take care of our own people here in the camps, thus avoiding the long, expensive trips that some of these health conditions would otherwise require," said.

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