Posted on Aug 26, 2014
In beautiful settings 25 minutes from Tyre, in the mountains in southern Lebanon, you will find Dedreghya. The village is a multi-faith community, with both a church and a mosque.
In 1995 NORWAC, with founding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supported the establishment of a clinic in Dedreghya. The clinic is owned and run by Imam Sadr Foundation, one of NORWAC’s partners in South Lebanon. Since the opening there has beena health clinic with different kind of services for the people in the area. Since June 2014 the health services at the clinic have expanded, offering treatment three days a week to people with spinal cord injury and Spina Bifida from all over Lebanon.
We know that the primary reasons for early death among persons with spinal cord injury and Spina Bifida, are kidney failure and infections. In addition, they often experience urinary problems and severe pain. This has a major impact on their quality of life.
Treating spinal cord injuries is complicated and demands multidisciplinary medical teams. In Norway there are only three specialist units within the field. Since 1980, the situation for people with spinal cord injury and Spina Bifida in Norway has improved.The reason for this, is the therapy intermittent catheterisation.
In Lebanon, those with Spinal cord injuries and children born with Spina Bifida are given the treatment Norwegians got before 1980 for their urinary tract problems.
Together with NORWAC’s two partners, one Lebanese and one Palestinian, Imam Sadr Foundation and Mousawat (both working with people with spinal cord injured people), weconducted surveys and interviews. It became clear that there was need to improve the services for these groups, and that these two partners where willing to do so.
It was decided that the clinic would be placed in Dedreghya, and Imam Sadr Foundation started the rehabilitation of the building. The clinic is perfect for this kind of speciality, since they have a physiotherapy department as well. Patients who come from far away also have the possibility to the spend a few nights at the clinic.
The new clinic opened on June 21. The Norwegian Ambassador to Lebanon, Svein Aass was present, together with local and national health authorities, all partners and users of the clinic.
The aim of the clinic:
The clinic will assess the patient, give treatment and follow up urinary problems. The users will through this get the possibility to stay healthy, get control of their life, build family and be a resource for the community. The clinic provides users with the medical equipment and medicines they need to protect the urinary tract. This is essential for the success of the treatment.
With specialist from Oslo University hospital and the Sunnaas Hospital in Oslo, Norway, we have had the possibility to contribute in training of doctors and nurses
Two Norwegian doctors and a urotherapist have been in Lebanon several times the last two years, and given both theoretical and practical education. Since February 2014 they have been working in the clinic with patients and staff. The plan is that they will continue to follow the project.
In addition, the clinic will offer peer consulting with focus groups led by a person with spinal cord injury. In a team with a trained mental health nurse - they will work at the clinic and as well make home visits.
One of the members of the team from Norway is a Peer consultant - who will assist in the training.
For NORWAC it is important that all groups in Lebanon who need this service can get it. To ensure this NORWAC has included 4 partners from different areas of Lebanon. This makes it possible for Lebanese, Palestinians from all over Lebanon and Syrian refugees to use the clinic.
NORWAC would like thank all the partners - and express our gratitude to Imam Sadr Foundation, for their strong commitment, willingness and flexibility in their effort to give people with spinal cord injury a better life. Equally important are the qualified and committed staff -doctors, nurses, peer consultant and physiotherapists, who are the driving force behind this project.
Many thanks to Mousawat for sharing knowledge and experience. Mousawat are responsible for the coordination and transportation of Palestinians with spinal cord injuries from all over Lebanon to the clinic. Thanks PRCS for sharing highly qualified staff and Maarouf Saad for cooperation with the project.
By Stein Omar Gjendem