UK Neuro Specialists travel to Gaza with MAP

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is helping to develop neurosurgery in Gaza with support from senior medical experts from Birmingham and Cardiff in the UK.

In Gaza the need to develop neurosurgical services is crucial. Repeated military offensives on the territory and, most recently, violence against Palestinians at the ongoing “Great March of Return” demonstrations have resulted in high numbers of severe head trauma and complex spinal cord injuries. Without appropriate surgical management such trauma cases will result in lifelong disabilities or even death.

Restrictions to patients' freedom of movement make it difficult for many neuro patients to access life-saving medical care outside of Gaza. Last year, Israeli authorities granted just 61% of all exit permits for patients referred for treatment outside Gaza.

Last month, a group of UK neuro specialists were again in Gaza with MAP. The team comprised of a Neurosurgical Clinical Nurse Specialist and Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr Imran Bhatti and Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr Ismail Ughratdar. Throughout the weeklong mission, the visiting medics supported the local team to strengthen and improve neurosurgical services in Gaza, particularly the skills needed for treating complex spinal cord and brain tumour cases.

"What an amazing rewarding experience! The work MAP does for these people is inspirational.” -Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr Ismail Ughratdar

Day 1: Outpatient clinic and reviewing rehabilitation services

On the first day in Gaza, the visiting medics attended an outpatient clinic at the European Gaza Hospital. They examined patients with complicated cervical spine and brain tumours along with local health workers and selected five patients with the most complex surgical needs to operate on that week, many of whom had been denied an exit permit to receive lifesaving medical treatment outside of Gaza.

The Neuro Nurse Specialist also visited Al Wafa rehabilitation hospital to gain a clearer understanding of the rehabilitation services available to neuro patients in Gaza.

Day 2: Complex cervical and brain tumour surgeries

On their second day, neurosurgeons Imran and Ismail operated on two patients. The first was a young man suffering from damage to his cervical discs, which had left all his limbs with severe numbness. Alongside local medics, they performed anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery, removing the damaged disc from the patient’s neck and fusing the bones together.

Next, they performed decompression surgery on a man suffering from CHIARI malformation, structural defects in the base of his skull and cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls balance).

The Neuro Nurse Specialist spent the day with the neuro physiotherapist and ward nurse at the European Gaza Hospital, learning how they support patients with neurological disorders.

Day 3: More complex surgeries and supporting the neuro physiotherapist

The neurosurgeons began their day with a ward round, checking on the men they operated on the day before. They then conducted another two operations, one of which lasted more than six hours.

The Neuro Nurse Specialist spent the day again with the neuro physiotherapist supporting patients in the ward. Alongside staff from MAP, they reviewed the documents of patients admitted to the department since January to analyse common cases admitted and the variety from month to month.

Day 4: Operations, ward round and a symposium

First Imran and Ismail did a ward round, checking on the patients they operated on the previous two days, then performed their final surgery of the week.

The Neuro Nurse Specialist spent the day again with the neuro physiotherapist helping to develop support for patients on the ward.

In the evening, they held an educational symposium for 65 health workers from the European Gaza and Al Shifa hospitals. Local neuro teams gave presentations on neuro cases and the visiting medics delivered an educational workshop.

Day 5: Ward rounds and goodbyes

On the final day, a ward round was conducted. The visiting medics gave advice to the local team and families to best care for the patients on their continued road to recovery.

MAP would like to thank the visiting experts for their time and energy.

We are looking forward to delivering specialist neurosurgery equipment to Gaza later in the year, thanks to generous funding from supporters. We will keep you updated on this. 

Please donate today to help MAP continue to support training and developments for medical professionals in Gaza.

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