Flight of hope, majority of ailing Yemenis land in Pune

Ever since the civil war broke out in Yemen, thousands of people struggle to find accessible and trustworthy medical care in their homeland. Owing to this, Pune has witnessed the highest number of Yemeni patients

Flight of hope, majority of ailing Yemenis land in Pune

Walid Ali Mohammad is excited to meet his four-year-old son after spending three years in India. Walid has booked flight tickets for Yemen for the coming month.

Flight of hope, majority of ailing Yemenis land in Pune

“We have not met our younger son, who is living in Yemen since the last three years,” said Walid Ali Mohammad.

Since the last three years, his eight-year-old elder son is being treated for cancer at Jehangir Hospital in Pune. As it was difficult to get a Visa, stayed here and finished his treatment. Now, his son can speak Hindi fluently and has also attended school in Pune.

“When we came here we took assistance of some Yemeni students. We rented a flat. Our only mission was to get the best treatment for our kid. We are happy with the Indian doctors and are taking a healthy kid back to our own country,” he added.

With the political turbulence in Yemen, it has witnessed crumbled healthcare infrastructure. Pune gets the highest number of Yemeni patients in India.

The closed airports in Yemen, visa and medical bill reimbursement issues in India, are some of the problems these Yemeni’s are going through while they come to seek healthcare in Pune. The network of Yemeni students, the translators at the hospitals and Yemen’s health ministry’s attache, are the people in the city these Yemeni’s approach, if they face any issues.

In the total overseas patients that the city hospital get; around 30 per cent at Ruby Hall, around 35 percent at Jehangir hospital, around 40 per cent at Sancheti hospital and around 40 per cent at Inamdar hospital; are Yemenis. Orthopaedic and cancer related treatments top the list of health ailments.

Flight of hope, majority of ailing Yemenis land in Pune

Dr Anwar Alhussam, himself a physician and dean of Taiz Institute for Health and Applied Sciences in Yemen is here for his wife’s treatment for the knee replacement at Sancheti hospital in Pune. “During the journey, we realised that almost all Yemeni’s were travelling to India for the treatment,” he said.

“Many doctors in Yemen have fled to different countries and salaries of hundreds of doctors are pending. At my college, post war the number of students taking admission has gone down by 30 per cent,” he added.

“We were amazed as there is no sound of bombings and shelling in this city,” said Faroq Abdul Aziz, whose wife is admitted in Sancheti hospital and undergoing joint knee replacement surgery.

“I live in Aden, which is the financial capital of Yemen. Although, the doctors and infrastructure isn’t trustworthy to carry out a surgical procedure like joint replacement,” said Aziz.

Dr Parvez Inamdar, medical director of Inamdar hospital in Pune, said, “The majority of foreign patients are Yemenis. They primarily suffer from orthopaedic injuries. Which have been sustained by them due to the on-going civil war.”

Flight of hope, majority of ailing Yemenis land in Pune

He added, “They undergo primary treatment in Yemen and come for advanced treatment in India. These patients shared that surgeries which are routine for Indian doctors here are impossible to carry out in Yemen. Every patient goes back home with a grateful heart after being treated in India.”

Rahul Chobe, general manager at Sancheti hospital said, “A majority of the patients finance their own treatment. Later on, they get their bills paid through trusts based in countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE. Due of such patients, every major hospital in Pune has translators who speak in Arabic.”

Flight of hope, majority of ailing Yemenis land in Pune

Dr Anes Salah Mohammed, medical attaché of Yemeni embassy, in Pune, said, “Yemeni people have been demanding that Indian government should open a consulate office in Aden and make the Visa approval easier. We are in talks with the Indian government. Soon, we will launch a website which will give city-wise information based on all the hospitals in India.”

“The Indian embassy in Sana’a issues around 40 visas in a day for Yemeni nationals travelling to India. Around 30 per cent of those coming to India will go to Pune. Apart from Pune even Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai are treating Yemeni patients,” said Mohammed. He spends most of his time helping the Yemeni patients.