Stuck in Gaza, Palestinian Doctors Get Training Remotely
Restrictions on travel out of Gaza prevent most doctors there from attending medical conferences that could provide them information on new research and medical treatments. So ANERA is helping bring that information to them.
Recently, 20 Gaza doctors filled ANERA’s videoconference room in Gaza City for a class conducted by teachers from Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education in Baltimore, MD. The continuing education sessions in Gaza expand the telemedicine project launched in the West Bank in September. ANERA has organized the long-distance learning program with Johns Hopkins, thanks to private funding and cooperation from the Ministry of Health, private sector and non-governmental organizations.
Gaza doctors are connected with American educators via videoconference.
Like their West Bank colleagues, the Gaza students will attend 12 videoconference sessions over the course of six months and receive certification from the university after attending and passing exams on at least seven of the class subjects.
Dr. Nithar Abu Dakkah works for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza. He describes the course as an innovative and powerful way to communicate with some of the best experts in the field. “By using videoconference, this course acts as our window to the world, allowing us to effectively update our knowledge without having to leave Gaza to do so.”
A major challenge in Gaza is the poor telecommunication infrastructure and unreliable Internet connectivity. But ANERA staffer Mostafa Al Ghosain is determined to overcome the obstacles. He contacts the university before each session to receive the appropriate slides in advance of the class so each presentation can continue without interruption even if the connection is cut. “Because we are under siege in Gaza, these sessions are imperative for our doctors – this is the only opportunity they have to access the most recent research that isn’t even in textbooks or medical journals yet,” Mostafa explains.
One of the first classes focused on diabetes and management of serum lipids abnormality. Participant Ibrahim EL-Fiqi, who works for the Sheikh Ridwan Clinic, was excited to learn better methods for treating his patients. “One of the most helpful things about this course is that it gives us the chance to ask questions,” he explains. “Even if it’s just one new concept that I learn in a session, I walk away a better doctor.”