The French Medical Adventure in Yemen_2008

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The French medical adventure in Yemen Entrance of the Republican Hospital of Taiz in the early 70’s France and Yemen have tied tight relations especially due to medical cooperation. It had a concrete structure composed of the French medical Mission (FMM/MMF) in Taiz and then the French-Yemeni Medical Association (FYMA/AMFY), which were both mostly built by Dr Yvette Viallard. She passed away at the beginning of 2008 and this loss led the AMFY to restructure itself and to define a new orientati
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  1 The French medical adventure in Yemen France and Yemen have tied tight relations especially due to medical cooperation. It had a concretestructure composed of the French medical Mission (FMM/MMF) in Taiz and then the French-Yemeni Medical Association (FYMA/AMFY), which were both mostly built by Dr Yvette Viallard. She passed away at the beginning of 2008 and this loss led the AMFY to restructure itself and to define a neworientation. It actively suggests restarting the cooperation with the Republican Hospital of Taiz. As Dr Viallard stated in 2005 : “During more than forty years, from the forbidden Yemen of Imam Ahmed to 1992, a French medical mission worked in the Hospital of Taiz, charged of different specialities: pneumology, ophthalmology, radiology, cardiology as well as laboratory, acquiring a strong reputation of competence. During these forty years of tight collaboration, exceptional links of friendship were spunwhich deserve to be continued. It is the main aim of the Association that we wished to found, supported bythe Ambassador of France in Sanaa and the Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen in Paris”. Doctor Barbier was the first registered French Doctor who worked in Yemen. Surgeon on the vessel “LeDiligent” in 1712, he was solicited to provide medicines for the Imam and then, to cure him. With sir de laGrelaudière, he established the first diplomatic contacts between the King of Yemen and the French KingLouis XIV.The French medical presence really started in 1947 when Dr Ribollet was invited by His Majesty ImamYahia in Sanaa. He practiced in Sanaa’s hospital, then in Taiz, where Imam Ahmed transferred the capitalafter the assassination of his father. Doctor Ribollet contributed to the construction of the Royal Hospital“Ahmedi”, which became the Republican Hospital of Taiz after the revolution in 1962.Dr Pierre Camille Février arrived in May 1947 in Sanaa. Unfortunately,he died on the 28th of October 1947. He was buried on the road to Hadda. In2006, President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered to mount a commemorative stone inthe place where he rests.Other doctors stayed for short periods: between 1947 and 1948. The French community of Sanaa,including families, was then composed of a dozen members.  Entrance of the Republican Hospital of Taizin the early 70’s Dr Pierre Camille Février  2Dr Claudie Fayein arrived in Yemen in 1950. She worked only few months with Dr Ribollet, before hesadly passed away and has buried there in Yemen on the 28th of September 1951. Her formation inethnology enabled her to be part in the creation of the ethnologic Museum of Sanaa. She wrote severalbooks on her experience, namely  A French doctor in Yemen (1955).Dr Serge Golovine was sent in mission by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1952. The purpose was to create anophthalmologic department in Ahmedi Hospital in Taiz. Dr VassiliAndrei joined him in 1955. He headed the pneumology andphtisiology (tubercolusis) departments in the same hospital andbecame one of the personal doctors of Imam Ahmed. Dr Ahmed AlHamami, currently Professor of pneumology in Sanaa University,worked with Dr Andrei in Taiz in 1973. He was the first Yemenidoctor sent in France for post graduate specialisation inpneumology, through the FMM in 1976.Yvette Viallard, doctor in radiology, knew Dr Andrei because shehad worked with him in the Hospital Boucicaut of Paris. She joined him, as sent in mission by the Ministry of Cooperation. Shehad as main goal to found again the French medical team in Taiz(MMF). The revolution upset the projects of administrativeorganisation. The small team of Dr Golovine, Andrei and Viallardwent through the civil war with unsophisticated material, frequentequipment failures and often the necessity to attend to warcasualties. As Dr Viallard sometimes quoted: “ the courtyard of thehospital was full of injured people and we did not have radiographic film” . She did several trips in Europe to plead for material help(radiological films and medicines). Fortunately, the collaborationwith the Italian medical teams was tight and efficient.During this period, Dr Viallard had tight contact with Yemeni intellectual youth. It constituted aresourceful asset to favour the future developments of the FMM. For these actions along with the on-goingmedical help, despite this difficult period, she was awarded the medals of the Légion d’Honneur asChevalier and then Officer by the French government.With the peace in 1968, the acknowledgement of the new regime enabled to foresee again the extensionand the administrative assistance of the Mission. Since 1969, the Yemeni authorities had insistentlyenquired, through the action of the Taiz Governor Cheikh Amin Abdul Wassee Nooman, the creation of the cardiology department. Dr Jean-François Hiance, the first Active Volunteer of the National Service(AVNS) arrived in 1971 and created this department. Then, he accompanied His Excellency Cadi AbdulRahman Iriani, President of the Republic, and became his cardiologist. The laborator    Dr Gérard Petit and his team laborator Dr Viallard in her Deartment 1968 Dr Vassili Andrei  3From 1973, the teams of radiology, cardiology and pneumology were strengthened; theophthalmology was assumed by the Yemeni action. The necessity to have biological results of goodquality led to the creation of a laboratory for analysis in 1975 by Dr Paul Hachet and Jacques Fleurentin.From this year, the FMM fully worked under the attentiveand friendly direction of Yvette Viallard. The Departmentsoperated much like the best of French hospitals with a seniordoctor heading them. Its notoriety increased in the surroundingareas, to the north of the country and even reaching until Saada.The Mission was led to cure numerous Yemeni personalities. Theservices of the FMM had become services of references for thewhole country (constitution of files for abroad), while the Yemenimedicine was still embryonic. At that time, the Italian mission hadclosed and the Russian and Chinese missions assured only basicmedical or surgical care. Concerning hospitalisation, thepneumology department was composed of around three hundredbeds and the Cardiology Department, around one hundred.The Mission, through the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ensured the purchase and thedistribution of several medicines, unavailable in Yemen. Technically, the capacities were improved by thearrival of new materials coming from France for the departements of radiology and cardiology. The FMMwas composed of a dozen French permanent members in Taiz (doctors, pharmacists, biologists, radiologytechnicians, nurses and Arabic-speaking secretaries). Similarly, the pneumology department started tointegrate Yemeni doctors, trained essentially in USSR and Romania. It engaged various training programsfor technical staff, laboratory assistant and nurses. The first technician, Abdu Wahab al Husseini, leftYemen for a formation in the General Company of Radiology (CGR) in 1974. Medical conferences wereorganised with the visits of French experts in parasitology (Pr Moulin), neurology (Pr Dumas), cardiology(Pr Tricot) and infectious and tropical diseases (Pr Lafaix). Following Dr Ahmed al Hamami, severalYemeni doctors went to France in the years 1980’s for their specialization, most of them with Frenchgovernemental grants. Among them, Pr Husna Al Kadri (biologist, University of Sanaa), Dr AdelMahyoub (chief of departement of radiology in the Al Thawra hospital in Sanaa), Dr Abdallah Abdo, DrAbdu al Hamadi, Dr Abdul Rahman al Murish (cardiolologists in Taiz hospitals), Dr A’Wali Al Akwa(ophtalmologist in Sanaa), Dr Mohamed al Fatish (surgeon). They respected their commitment to practicein Yemen but also to maintain a part or the whole activity in public hospital of the country. Some of themunfortunately died (Dr Abdulaziz Abdu, Dr Fadel Afif, Dr Ahmed Daifallah, all cardiologists). Manyother Yemeni doctors from Aden were also trained in France for specialization in internal medicine,surgery, ophtalmology, and epidemiology.In 1986, the mission went out of the hospital: a project of epidemiology and analysis of tropicaldiseases was created in Wadi. The FMM participated through the action of one of its doctors, OlivierBarbançon, which installed and operated the first CT-scanner in the Al Thawra Hospital, located in Taiz(Hail Saeed foundation). The new technological approaches in imaging (scanner and echography) enabledthe realisation of scientific publications.Unfortunately, the international situation did not permit Dr Viallard to fulfill her dream of progressivetake-over of Yemeni doctors trained in France. Unexpectedly, the FMM was closed in 1992. The Yemenidoctors trained in France became operational only in 1993 and they arrived in destabilised services.After Dr Andrei’s retirement, he continued to stay in Taiz inorder to support the action of his students. He died in Taiz in1989. He was buried, according to his request, in a publicgarden close to Taiz. The Yemeni authorities acknowledgedthe long determined motivation but also the assertiveness of Dr Viallard by decoration her with the Medal of Labour. Shealso received many thanks from the highest authorities of theState as well as the proposition of the Yemeni nationality. Cardiolo Deartment Dr Hiance Dr Elmrich and Dr Léandri 1980    4The AMFY/FYMA was created in 1990 in order to support the threatened MMF, to pursue its action, andto accompany the Yemeni colleagues. It is a non-profit, non-confessional, and non-political associationaimed at maintaining the capital of friendship, resulting from thirty years of common work. Its main goalswere :    To support hospital activity where a technical cooperation was still necessary    To bring an helpful and friendly collaboration to Yemeni health professionals    To organize post-graduate teaching programs.As Dr Yvette Viallard summarized: “ to create a structure of friendship between the Yemeni and Frenchmedicine, using, preserving and glorifying our beautiful common capital”.  The AMFY is composed of 80 Yemeni and Frenchmembers. Most of the French members are former membersof the FMM of Taiz. Most of the Yemeni members aredoctors or scientists, which were partly specialised inFrance.Since its creation, the AMFY has integrated some friends, attached to the French-Yemenicollaboration for health. It has continued during several years to bring medical material. For instance, agenerous member of the AMFY gave new ultrasound equipment to the cardiology department of theRepublican Hospital of Taiz in 2004.Between 1990 and 1999, the FYMA organisednumerous seminars in Yemen (the French-Yemeni Medical Meetings), focusing on sometopics of common medical practices in thecountry.Since 2000, FYMA’s actions focuses on post-academic medical formation, associating the receptionin France of Yemeni doctors, short missions of accompaniment by French experts as well as theorganisation of formation programs in Yemen. These actions were divided in two parts. First concernedmedical imaging, especially echography, which has expended a lot in Yemen but suffers of an heterogeneityof operators’ qualification. Training courses in echography have been organised from 2000 to 2004, withpractical workshops for Yemeni doctors coming from different Yemeni governorates, with the partnershipof the World Federation of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology (Pr Michel Claudon and Dr AdelMahyoud).Therefore, in 2002, the FYMA contributed to the foundation of the Yemeni Society of Ultrasound and its affiliation to the international societies of echography. Another important theme of work is the development of interventional cardiology in Yemen. All these actions were supported by sponsors :Total Yemen, Crédit Agricole-Indosuez Sanaa, Alcatel, as well as different manufacturers of cardiologicmaterial. Other projects concern epidemiology and public health. For instance, the FYMA, especially Pr S.Briançon of Nancy, participated in an important study coordinated by Dr Ahmed Mottareb of Sanaa,demonstrating the relation between consumption of Khat and myocardial infarction.Recently, the Association’s goals evolved to answer the necessities of the Republican Hospital of Taiz,which became academic. Nevertheless, the Association wishes to contribute to the development of thepublic medicine in Taiz and the aim remains to maintain the technical quality. Finally, it desires toparticipate in the academic teaching in the new University of Taiz.  Dr Moh. Al Kebsi, during his fellowship inCardiology in Versailleswith Dr Geores and Dr LivarekSeminary in Aden with Pr Lasjaunias and Pr Al Kahf 
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