“Experiences gained in Islamic countries”

by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Trabert,  2010/09/07

Prof Dr Gerhard Trabert is one of two experienced doctors who went to Pakistan as members of our third mission team. He reports about his experiences in his own, highly interesting blog. Today, we publish his latest report, and we would like to recommend his other articles to you.

It soon became clear that I would take over the examination of women, since I had already gained some experience as a doctor in Islamic countries. I work together with an interpreter and it is going quite well.

Of course, I constantly have to ask whether I am allowed to do this or that. Usually I am given the permission and the face veil is partly removed so that I can examine the women’s throats, faces or ears. Auscultation, i.e. listening to a person’s breathing, however, can only be done through the women’s clothes, which mostly consists of a thin Sari.

Prof Dr Gerhard Trabert is a member of the third humedica mission team; further teams will follow starting from next Saturday. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

The disease pattern is the “common” one after a disaster of this extent in a poor country. People suffer from diarrhoea caused by their drinking water which is often polluted as a consequence of the flood. They have infected wounds caused by injuries they sustained when fleeing from the water masses or they suffer from helminthiasis, eye infections or respiratory diseases.

Many also complain about stomach problems and probably suffer from gastritis or a gastric ulcer. In this case, however, it is more difficult to clearly determine the cause of disease. On the one hand, this kind of disease can certainly also be a consequence of polluted drinking water or food.

But on the other hand, a disaster of this extent during which people fear for their lives, lose their possessions and their homes, also is a stress situation that can easily cause the same bodily reactions.

And furthermore, it is Ramadan, the month of fasting for all faithful Moslems. That means that they must not eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset.

I have experienced the same situation during my mission in Afghanistan, which also took place during Ramadan, after September 11, 2001. The biggest problem during the fasting month is the circumstance that our patients – at least older children and adults – do not even take their medications.

According to the Koran, ill persons are definitely allowed to interrupt their fasting in order to take their medications, and they are even allowed to eat and drink; but of course no one listens to me, the “unfaithful”. Patients do not even administer eye drops or inhalers if they have difficulties in breathing. Hence, we usually prescribe a standard dose of one tablet or one dose of eye drops or inhaling in the morning before sunrise and another one in the evening after sunset.

Some of our patients are pregnant. They are given additional vitamins and iron. One of our patients brought along her 14 days-old baby, since she was uncertain if her small and cute baby who seemed so fragile was in good health.

After she had told me that she nursed her child, as almost all women in Pakistan do, I encouraged her in doing so and prescribed vitamins.

It is hot and humid, flies are everywhere and we are sweating, sweating, sweating. The queue of patients only becomes shorter after 40 or 50 persons. We are tired and also a little exhausted. This time we can return to our accommodation without a police escort.

On our way we pass areas that have been flooded by the rivers Kabul and Jindi. To our right and left, makeshift tents line the main road to Islamabad. The remains of tents can also be seen on the median strip of the main road which only some days ago had still been an island in a completely flooded region, with only the road being a little higher up and therefore free of water.

When we arrive at our camp, there is water for us, too – in form of a wonderful shower.

The mission team

Philipp, a surgeon and orthopaedist from Bonn, Irmgard, a nurse from Tübingen, and Cindy, a nurse from Belgium, set up our working sites every day anew. They do so very fast and work together hand in hand. Philipp and I examine the patients and determine their treatment, Irmgard and Cindy distribute drugs and ointments, and they clean and dress wounds.

Pakistan is a strictly Islamic state, which means that we need to set up a separate treatment room for women with a female interpreter who assists during treatments. Of course also Irmgard and Cindy wear headscarves. Not to wear headscarves would be a provocation against all Moslems.

All the entries in Prof Dr Gerhard Trabert’s diary are exciting personal reports (german!) dispersed with interesting excursions into specific topics. Please convince yourself of this.

Please continue supporting the work of humedica in Pakistan by means of a targeted donation. Send a text message containing the reference DOC to 8 11 90 or make a donation for the flood victims in Pakistan Online-Formular"target="new"">via our online form or to the account below:
      humedica e.V.
      Stichwort „Pakistan
      Acount 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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