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Naazish YarKhan

Naazish YarKhan

Posted January 22, 2009 | 05:26 PM (EST)

American Doctors Prepare to Depart for Gaza


Lombard, IL - Nine American and four Canadian doctors are preparing to depart on a 10-day mission to bring desperately needed medical assistance to Palestinians living in Gaza. The group is sponsored by the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA; www.ammgaza.com) in conjunction with the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations. "With the number of injured reported, the need for medical assistance is paramount," said Dr. Ismail Mehr, an anesthesiologist from Hornell, NY who is leading the mission to Gaza. "Any community would be challenged handling that kind of volume, and Gaza is one of the world's poorest. We are eager to assist in anyway we can."

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Officials at World Health Organization report over 5,200 Palestinians have been wounded by
Israeli strikes - including 1552 children, 652 women, and 22 healthcare personnel. With recent
attacks on three major hospitals in Gaza and with remaining medical facilities understaffed and
inadequately equipped, attention is being drawn to the overwhelming humanitarian need.

"Bombs are being dropped on hospitals while doctors are treating the wounded. That's a very
challenging environment to practice medicine," said Dr. Imran Qureshi, an interventional
radiologist from Chicago. "Our mission is to provide any assistance we can to help innocent
civilians receive medial care."

"The medical needs in Gaza are overwhelming, and the current medical infrastructure cannot
keep up with the current demands. Recent strikes at three of the largest hospitals underscore the urgency of these needs," said Dr. Shariq Sayeed, a vascular surgeon from Atlanta and veteran of medical relief work in Pakistan following the 2006 earthquake. "We hope to lend our skills and services to aid the suffering civilian population, and to show that Americans do care, and always will care for innocent victims."

The multidisciplinary team of volunteers also includes Dr. Irfan Galaria, a plastic surgeon from
Salt Lake City, Dr. Kanwal Shazia Chaudhry, a pediatric emergency specialist from New York
City, and Dr. Rick Cowell, a family physician from Iowa. Ahmed Kasem, an attorney with the
California firm, Kasem, Ko & Ahmed, has volunteered to assist with logistics. The team will
bring medical supplies purchased by IMANA in Egypt into Gaza with them. Nine doctors are
scheduled to arrive in Gaza on Thursday, January 22nd, with the rest arriving on January 26th.