British War Surgeon Nott Returns to Gaza to Train Doctors

British surgeon David Nott trains Palestinian doctors in Gaza City July 10, 2017. Picture taken July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

By Nidal Al Mughrabi

GAZA, July 12 – British war surgeon David Nott was back in the Gaza Strip this week to share with local doctors specialist knowledge he has amassed from working in conflict and disaster zones over the past quarter-century.

An expert in using minimal equipment to treat patients in basic facilities, Nott returned three years after his previous visit during the 2014 Gaza war between Israel and Palestinian militants.

This time, hospitals in Gaza are again struggling to cope with a crisis: power cuts and medicine shortages stemming from tensions between the enclave’s ruling Hamas Islamist group and the rival West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

In a hall at a beachfront restaurant this week, Nott instructed 36 Palestinian surgeons in special techniques to deal with injuries in a war zone.

“I was very impressed with the Gaza surgeons last time … but of course those experiences get less and less as time goes on and you have to then retrain the new surgeons how to deal with those injuries,” he told Reuters.

“That is the reason why I am here … to try and give the surgeons who work in Gaza as much of my knowledge and experiences as I have gained over the last 25 years.”

Suhair Zakkout, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza, which hosted Nott, said his visit would help strengthen emergency medical services in the area and improve health providers’ efficiency.

Nott is a co-founder of the David Nott Foundation, which is dedicated to furthering the principles and improving the standards and practice of humanitarian surgery.

A specialist in vascular surgery, he worked in hospitals in Syria in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to treat victims of its civil war. He has also practised surgery in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq and other conflict areas.

“The surgeons I left in Aleppo and in Syria have my techniques,” he said. “So from my point of view, I left a legacy of training.”

Nott, who leaves his job at three London hospitals when he goes our to help the victims of war, described in graphic terms in The Mail on Sunday newspaper in January the plight of the wounded children of Aleppo.

“I spent the week before Christmas in a field hospital in Syria operating on many tiny souls see-sawing between life and death, their bodies held together with metal pins and scaffold-like fixators,” he wrote.

Commenting on the current energy and health care problems in Gaza, he told Reuters: “That must have a huge knock on the face for patient care, for patient safety and the civilian population in Gaza and now they are beginning unfortunately to suffer.

“It seems a great shame to me that I come back and things do not seem to have moved on to where we have liked to see them three years ago,” he said.

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