In this context, a group of 16 staff that includes surgeons, anesthetists, and nurses has managed to carry out 66 surgical operations and 88 surgical procedures on patients aged between 5 months and 17 years, according to the protocol, for anesthesia and surgery, of the Smile Train organization.
Throughout this 11-day mission, 15 Iraqi doctors and nurses played an active role during both the surgical and the preoperative and postoperative phases. The involvement of surgeons and anesthetists was made more concrete by means of the activation of a program of telemedicine that we believe to be of such extreme importance that it should become part of the resource bank of all humanitarian missions.
The ideal scenario would certainly be that of creating such a highly specialized health model in an existing hospital, but this seems unrealizable in the current political climate, which does not permit humanitarian missions to work freely and with the necessary security. However, this freedom and security are available at the Iraqi base of Talill and are allowing us to make this ambitious project a reality over a 3-year time period.
We believe that the best way for humanitarian organizations to proceed is by the promotion of training and support for local medical personnel and the provision and maintenance of equipment for these centers with the overall aim of developing their autonomy. Our model, using a mobile unit, may be one that can be used in other situations of specific difficulty, such as that in Iraq, where it is dangerous to work in the field.
Fabio Massimo Abenavoli, M.D.
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