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Omani docs who stay put ready to return if the need arises

19 Apr 2020

Muscat – Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, creating a public health crisis that has left healthcare systems across the world struggling to cope as hospitals fill, and medical supplies and professionals are stretched thin. 

Global unity and humanity however, prevail as many Omani doctors based in different countries decided to stay in the hardest-hit regions, and fight alongside their peers until their own country calls them back.  

One of the doctors who decided to stay back is Dr Julyan al Fori, an Omani registrar who is completing her fellowship in respiratory medicine in the UK. 

She said that the situation in her hospital is very critical as the number of confirmed cases continues to increase significantly on a daily basis. “As a registrar, I am one of the frontline fighters against COVID-19. 

As a doctor, I fight the disease standing from my ground, therefore I decided to stay here in the UK, where every human life is worthy for us,” she said. Despite that, the 32 year old doctor assured that should her country needs her, she will not hesitate to return. 

“The situation in my country is currently under control, however, once my mother country needs me back to do my duty, I will fly back immediately. If Oman needs me, I will go back without thinking twice,” she said. 

Another doctor who decided to stay in the UK, is Dr Ahmed al Aufi, 33, who is working at the Vascular and Trauma Surgery Unit at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.  “Of course, with COVID-19, things are a bit different because not all medical personnel are aware of every aspect of the disease, and I wouldn’t consider myself as the expert. That’s why we are trying to educate ourselves on the disease, for the benefit of our patients and ourselves,” he said. 

Dealing with a new, highly infectious disease brings about its own set of challenges, and for Canada-based doctor, Dr Maha al Mandhari, the pressure can sometimes be heavy. As a final year resident in Anaesthesiology, part of her role is to provide patients with breathing tubes and ventilation care, which means that her department is often called on in emergency situations. 

“To say I am not nervous or scared would be a lie. The pressure is immense. I feel that is the appropriate response at this time, however, it doesn’t interfere with my work. I am concerned for my peers, colleagues and mentors, who I have had the privilege of working with. I am also concerned for my family in Oman, and I know they are constantly worrying about me,” she said. The majority of Omani doctors who are training in France have also decided to stay behind, prompting the French Embassy in Muscat to release a statement, thanking them for their sacrifice.  

Dr Juma al Kasbi, who is currently completing his fellowship training at Lille University Hospital in France, where the COVID-19 situation is critical is one of the doctors who stayed behind. 

“We used to work in a stressful environment every day. The situation is worse as the risk of contamination is very high. I used to get enough sleeping before my shift, eating health and doing sport if possible. Once again, respecting the protocols and precautions helps to reduce the stress,” said the 34 year old doctor. 

“I will be happy to go back to my beloved country if needed. I am physically in France, but my heart is  always there,” he added. One fear that many of the doctors shared, was the fear of potentially infecting their loved ones.  “There is always a concern about that [infecting family members], but what I tend to do, is change my clothes  outside, before entering the house, keep them in a plastic bag, and wash them immediately.  

“The hospital is well-prepared and prioritised the protection of medical staff by providing them with all the available personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Dr Mohammed al Harrasi, a 36 year old respiratory and sleep fellow in Monash Hospital University in Australia. 

(Contributed by Liyana al Abdulsalam) 

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