Message from the President August 2016

Last week in Abuja, IMA of Nigeria hosted the 33rd Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA) International Conference, which was simultaneously holding its 17th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference. The FIMA Conference had as its theme “Eradication of Communicable Diseases: West African and Nigerian Experience” considering the recent major outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa, Lassa Fever in Nigeria, and now the much-feared Zika across the Atlantic in Latin America.


The conference brought together about international Muslim health professionals from FIMA member countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Palestine, Malaysia, Bangladesh, North America, Turkey, Uganda, Algeria, Niger Republic, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan and more than 500 delegates from the host, Nigeria, led by its President, Dr. Salisu Isma'il of Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.


During the scientific sessions, a total of 28 papers were presented organized while two professional seminars were organized by the Islamic Hospital Consortium (IHC) and 'Consortium of Islamic Medical Colleges' (CIMCO). Furthermore, a 2-day Students' Leadership Training Programme was organized for students of Nigerian health institutions.


FIMA was formed in 1981 with objectives such as to foster the unity and welfare of Muslim medical and healthcare professionals all over the world; to promote Islamic medical activities including health services, education and research through cooperation and coordination among member organizations; to promote the understanding and the application of Islamic principles in the field of medicine; and to mobilize professional and economic resources in order to provide medical care and relief to affected areas and communities, among others. The hosting organization, IMAN, was founded in 1989 by a group of Nigerian health professionals with similar objectives to FIMA, to wit, to bring into closer union all Nigerian Muslim healthcare professionals (doctors, pharmacists, lab technicians, health administrators, etc.) and to render services to humanity with the fear of Allah (exalted be His Name) in mind. Working under the motto “Health is a Priceless Treasure”, IMAN also aims to create unity among Muslim medical/health professionals in Nigeria; and to enhance better understanding of healthcare within the framework of Islam, among others.


Highlight of the Conference was the Opening Address by Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, who is the Grand Patron of IMAN. The Sultan called on Muslim health all their duties only for the sake of Allah and the expected divine rewards, and not for worldly gain. He further called on them to avoid unnecessary strikes, as strikes only succeed in alienating health professionals from the people, their patients. He added that the health and well being of the society should be paramount in all health professionals do, and that would only be possible if they are dedicated to their work.


In a Communique issued at the end of the Conference signed by IMAN President Dr. Isma'il and Secretary Dr. Muhammad Audi, participants observed that the problem of communicable diseases remains a significant challenge in the West African sub-region, and much needs to be done to ensure the battle with Ebola and Lassa Fever is completely won. This situation is also confounded by the many unmet needs of victims of armed conflicts such as inadequate health care, poor nutrition and low health literacy. Similarly, there is poor understanding, limited research and misapplication of Islamic Prophetic medicine, while there is poor adherence of healthcare professionals to Islamic principles toward the care of Muslim patients.


In response to the Sultan's admonitions, the participants also observed that there is persisting industrial disharmony in the health sector, and that, according to them, is quite worrisome. One other observation was the poor funding of the country's health insurance scheme which has contributed to the consistent decrease in accessing qualitative healthcare services. Participants also lamented the deliberate inadequate acknowledgment of the contributions made to modern medicine by founding Muslim scholars especially in Western medical President FIMA discourse.


The Conference therefore recommended that healthcare professionals and governments in Nigeria and West Africa Sub-region should intensify efforts toward eradication of communicable diseases particularly immunization preventable diseases like polio; it also urged the government to provide the much-needed medical and relief materials to improve the living conditions of victims of armed conflicts, especially the Internally Displaced Persons all over the country; and that Muslim healthcare providers should equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge of Tibb Nabawi (Prophetic Medicine) to bridge the gap in its understanding and application


Further, participants recommended that as it is the responsibility of every healthcare provider to preserve the faith, life, intellect, lineage and wealth of their patients which are all encompassed in the purpose and guidelines of the Islamic Shariah, Muslim health care professionals should to continue to serve as role models by fostering harmony and promoting the spirit of teamwork and positive communication in the health sector; and that government should make health a fundamental human right and enforce this right by providing universal health insurance to all citizens with adequate funding of healthcare.


The conference enjoined the global community to give due recognition to all the neglected Muslim scholars who were some of the founding fathers of modern medicine; and that there should be improvement in the awareness of Islamic injunctions on medicine and care by all Muslim health professionals; and finally that government and all professionals to do stakeholders should intensify effort to provide qualitative treatment to people with addiction problems but also to prevent others from imbibing this habit and create a purposeful leadership forum for constant orientation of undergraduate health students in the areas of leadership and ethics.


Elsewhere, the Conference was informed of current IMAN activities to include establishment of clinics and hospitals; supporting indigent patients morally and financially; visitation to patients on sickbeds; rendering free medical services to prison inmates; medical caravans to rural communities; rendering subsidized health services to the poor and the needy through collaboration with other Islamic organizations; provision of relief materials to the needy; and bathing, shrouding and burial of unclaimed corpses in hospitals.


Other major and significant interventions by FIMA and IMAN include free surgeries for blindness (cataract surgery) which they call Save Vision; free surgeries for patients with vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) which they call Save Dignity; and free surgeries for children with cleft lips and palate, which they call Save Smile.


International delegates expressed surprise at the beauty and tranquility of Abuja, as they were taken on mini-tours around the FCT and neighboring Niger State.


Dr. Tanveer Zubairi
President, FIMA

Last modified on Monday, 05 September 2016 22:27
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