Abdul Rahman Ali, 27, a commander in the Yemen army, is currently undergoing treatment for a gunshot injury in his intestines. But more than the physical wounds, his emotional, psychological and financial state of affairs are affecting him. Despite the cheerful disposition, he is not able to hide the scars of the Yemeni civil war.
Breaking the sombre mood that is part of any hospital, Ali says: “I am just waiting to finish my treatment and get well. My place is in the war zone and I am eager to go back to Yemen and fight to serve my nation.”
Like many other Yemeni nationals, Ali is fond of watching Bollywood movies and is particularly a fan of Shah Rukh Khan. Because of the ongoing crisis back home, Ali has not received his salary for the past two years, but he hopes all will be well soon, as it often happens in a stereotypical Bollywood movie.
I had heard about India’s expertise in prosthetic limbs and approached the UAE government for support. They were so kind ...
The Yemeni civil war is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015. Several soldiers and civilians have since been killed and wounded. Due to limited medical facilities in the war-torn country, doctors in Yemen recommended advanced treatment abroad for the injured.
The UAE government has supported the medical programme for the past two years. The wounded have been flown to India for specialised treatment. The present batch of injured Yemenis comprises 161 soldiers and civilians. They are recuperating at the Medeor Hospital in New Delhi.
Dr Shajir Gaffar, group director, BD, of Abu Dhabi-headquartered VPS Healthcare, said: “We are grateful to the UAE leadership for undertaking this humanitarian mission and choosing VPS to be the trusted health-care provider for this endeavour.”
“One of our greatest strengths is the diversity and extent of our network, which enables patients to be referred from geographically remote areas such as Yemen to more centralized and super-specialty hospitals like Medeor,” he added.
The gesture is in implementation of the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in co-ordination and cooperation with regional and international humanitarian organisations, so as to alleviate the effects of the political crisis in Yemen.
“Since embarking on our altruistic mission in 2017, till date, we have successfully treated 560 patients in eight batches. Most of the patients need multi-disciplinary treatments and are required to undergo orthopaedic, plastic, general and neurosurgery to make full recovery,” Dr Gaffar informed.
I had abdominal injuries and had been undergoing treatment in my country for long. But limited medical facilities nearly made me lose hope ...”
Detailing the initiative, Rajiv Misra, regional COO, Medeor Hospital at New Delhi’s Qutab Institutional Area, said: “India has been well-known for medical tourism due to its world-class medical facilities. As part of the UAE government’s compassionate mission to help victims of war, patients have been sent to our hospital in batches. A large group of UAE government officials and doctors regularly visit the hospital for follow-up with the patients to ensure their well-being.”
Asked how foolproof is the treatment, as communication can pose a barrier between the patient and the doctor due to language issues, Misra commented: “The hospital has a vast number of translators, well-versed in different languages. And each floor has four translators at any point of time. So, such issues do not arise.”
India’s medical infrastructure and the capacity of doctors to provide a full range of multi-disciplinary treatments has led to successfully curing patients who have gone back, thanking the UAE’s generosity for medical support and recovery.
Abdul Wasea Ahmad Mohammad, 47, is another soldier being treated by Indian doctors. While hugging the doctor treating him, Abdul Wasea states: “I am so thankful to the UAE government and can never forget the support extended to us by all. Injured in the war a year ago, I received basic treatment at a hospital in Aden. The solace that I find now after undergoing an elbow surgery makes me feel I am on the road to speedy recovery.”
The medical history of some patients suggested that a seriously injured limb would have to be amputated, as the patients had developed infections. But, despite the challenges, the Indian doctors ensured infections were kept under control and after performing multiple surgeries, succeeded in saving their limbs.
Khalid, 24, a police personnel from Aden, is one such soldier who was fast losing hope of recovering. “I had abdominal injuries and had been undergoing treatment in my country for long. But limited medical facilities nearly made me lose hope of ever getting well. It was then that I sought help from the UAE government and was sent to India for treatment,” he informed.
Detailing the war that has affected millions of Yemenis, Khalid said: “Like several other places, the beautiful port of Aden is today destroyed and people are facing shortage of food and basic necessities. Still, my family of six continues to live on hope and prayers.”
Though still a long way from walking out of the hospital, Khalid is yearning to visit the markets in Delhi and buy sarees for his wife and shop for his children. Referring to Indians as warm and vibrant and food varieties amazing, he relishes samosas (a snack) and ladoos (sweet). “Given an opportunity, I would some day love to visit India again on a leisure trip,” he concluded.
Similarly, 32-year-old army man Yousuf, whose life has turned topsy-turvy due to the war, refers to it as a curse to the country. “It has taken away everything — from material belongings to our happiness. While some residents have migrated to other countries, not all can consider leaving their homeland,” he remarked.
Yousuf was on his way to work when a landmine blew his car. Severely injured, he was taken to the hospital, where his left leg had to be amputated. “I had heard about India’s expertise in prosthetic limbs and approached the UAE government for support. They were so kind and in no time, formalities were completed and I was in India — the land of Bollywood actors Sanjay Dutt and Shahid Kapur, both of whom I admire immensely.”
The gruesome injury and sufferings have not diminished this soldier’s fighting spirit. With several challenges in front of him, Yousuf has put the tragic events behind and is looking forward to shopping for his friends back home and having some more of Indian dal (pulses) and papad (poppadom).