Apr 30, 2015
I guess you have heard about the escalation of armed conflicts in Yemen by the end of March. I was asked by MSF to join a surgical emergency mission to Aden in early April. Due to the delay of approval and application of visa, my departure was delayed till 22 April night.
After a long journey, including 11 hours of flight from HK to Addis Ababa, 1 hour of transit flight to Djibouti and a 13-hour boat trip to Aden, I finally reached Aden MSF Hospital in the afternoon of 24 April.
MSF Surgical Hospital in Aden has been run by MSF since 2012. It has around 50 inpatient beds, 6 emergency beds, 6 ICU beds, and 2 Operating Rooms. There are x-ray, simple laboratory and blood bank facilities. We have two surgical teams with two expatriate surgeons and anesthetists. The hospital is also supported by some local doctors in ER and wards, as well as some local surgeons and anesthetists.
The hospital mainly looks after casualties caused by armed conflicts and trauma cases. Our staff have been extremely busy during the early period of conflicts. There were a number of mass casualties’ admissions and more than 800 war-wounded treated in the hospital in first three weeks since 19th March. The armed fighting on the ground has never stopped.
Major roads are blocked either by fighting or by militants. Patients, including some referrals from health facilities around the region, can hardly to come to the hospital. They often come late with wound complications and infections. We hope the fighting can end soon so that patients can reach the hospital.
Another expatriate surgeon in the hospital is a young surgeon. It’s his first mission and he has been here for two weeks. I met my old friend, Stephan here. He is OT nurse. He is a very experienced veteran volunteer of MSF. He has retired and it is his 24th mission with MSF. I met him in Aweil Hospital in South Sudan in 2008. He has helped open up a number of surgical missions for MSF. We both are very happy to meet again.
Another lady anesthetist, Karina,. She is an old friend of Dr. Akin Chan, another Hong Kong field worker who is now in South Sudan. They both worked in Pakistan in 2012. She has also worked in Hangu before. With times goes by, I join more MSF missions. I may meet more old friends in MSF family.
We stay in the hospital compound. The office and accommodation are on the first floor of hospital building, and the wards, ER and OT are on the Ground floor. Generally the hospital is respected by both confronting parties. We are safe within the compound. So far, the medical supplies are adequate. We do have blood transfusion set up within the hospital. I’m confident that we could manage most of the armed wound patients. Besides the fresh casualties, we are expecting more patients wounded before coming in. We hope the situation may improve and those wounded can reach the hospital as soon as possible.