|Reference id||aka Wikileaks id #228467 ?|
|Subject||Tale Of Two Hospitals Highlights Royg’s Misplaced Fiscal Priorities|
|Origin||Embassy Sanaa (Yemen)|
|Cable time||Tue, 6 Oct 2009 05:38 UTC|
|History||First published on Thu, 1 Sep 2011 23:24 UTC (original)
Modified on Thu, 8 Sep 2011 13:29 UTC (diff from original)
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Hide header C O N F I D E N T I A L SANAA 001832 SENSITIVE SIPDIS DEPT FOR NEA/ARP ANDREW MACDONALD E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2019 TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], SOCI [Social Conditions], ECON [Economic Conditions], PREL [External Political Relations], UK [United Kingdom], GM [Germany], YM [Yemen] SUBJECT: TALE OF TWO HOSPITALS HIGHLIGHTS ROYG’S MISPLACED FISCAL PRIORITIES Classified By: Ambassador Stephen A. Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The stark contrast between Yemen’s newest medical facility — the Sana’a Defense Compound Hospital — originally built as the president’s personal hospital, and the country’s oldest — the Aden Republican Hospital — highlights a troubling sense of the ROYG’s fiscal priorities as the national budget crisis deepens, and points to its emphasis on regime preservation over meaningful development. The dilapidated state of the 64 year-old Aden Republican Hospital, a 300-bed facility without a single functioning x-ray machine, has become a source of daily humiliation and persisent anti-northern sentiment among Aden residents, according to hospital officials. The Ministry of Health has ignored modest requests for additional funds to maintain equipment, buy basic supplies, and re-paint the hospital walls. By contrast, the ROYG self-financed the state-of-the-art, USD eight million Sana’a Defense Compound Hospital and, only at the urging of the president’s personal physician, agreed to open up the hospital to a handful of top military commanders and selected civilian patients from local hospitals. Like many reforms in the political sphere, the need for development in Aden, Yemen’s “second city,” remains glaringly obvious and lacking in presidential attention. END SUMMARY. ADEN HOSPITAL: 300 BEDS, NO NEW MONEY ————————————- ¶2. (SBU) The disparity between two Yemeni hospitals ) one the country’s oldest and the other its newest ) sheds light on elements of daily life in southern Yemen that have long contributed to anti-northern sentiment. The Aden Republican Hospital is the governorate’s largest public hospital, personally inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 and last renovated in 1985. Even by Yemen’s low public health standards, the Aden hospital, which local residents describe as Yemen’s most modern prior to unification, stands out as a symbol of central government neglect. Unlike centers in Sana’a, Mar’ib, and other regions with strong tribal representation, the Aden hospital receives only an irregular trickle of Ministry of Health funding and no foreign donor assistance. ROYG officials in Sana’a describe modernizing the Aden Hospital as a high priority, but mostly within the context of preparations for the Gulf Cup of Nations soccer tournament, which Aden will host in early 2010. “If we don’t fix it soon, the Aden hospital will be a major embarrassment for the government,” Faris al-Sanabani, President Saleh’s personal secretary, told EconOff in September. Dr. Jamal Ismail, the hospital’s director, claims that “for 10 years the government has promised us money to buy new equipment or paint the walls, but so far…nothing.” ¶3. (SBU) The Aden hospital, whose hallways and operating rooms evoke a sci-fi writer’s post-apocalyptic vision more than a modern public health facility, lacks a single functioning x-ray machine and relies on two first-generation technology, Hungarian-built sterilization machines to disinfect material from over 300 beds. “The hospital itself paid for the only renovation we’ve completed since 1985 -) plugging holes in the ceiling to keep out rats and cockroaches. Even that failed to keep the pests out,” Dr. Ismail told EconOff during a September 29 tour of the facility. The fact that the hospital must send patients to Sana’a for most laboratory tests and anything beyond basic surgical procedures has become a source of humiliation in daily life in Aden, according to staff physicians. “The Health Ministry keeps the good equipment in Sana’a, so that we have nothing here,” Ismail told EconOff. Hospital officials showed EconOff a wish list of easily procurable items, including bedpans and stethoscopes, that Aden hospital officials claim the Ministry of Health has ignored since the document was compiled in 2001. In the absence of funding from the ROYG, the hospital has begun to charge patients USD 20-40 for some operations to pay for basic medical supplies, costs not passed on to patients in other public hospitals. SANA’A HOSPITAL: 16 BEDS, EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS ——————————————— — ¶4. (C) In stark contrast to the Aden hospital stands the spotless, newly-modernized USD eight million Defense Compound Hospital in Sana’a, self-financed by the ROYG and completed in May 2009. The hospital, headed by Dr. Hisham al-Zubairi, Saleh’s personal physician, is staffed by German and Indian doctors and equipped with state-of-the-art orthopedic, ear nose and throat (ENT), and 3-D medical imagery technology. The facility, located on the grounds of the new Ministry of Defense complex, was originally built to serve as Saleh’s personal hospital. (Note: Saleh was treated at the Sana’a Defense Compound Hospital following his June 2009 spill from a mountain bike. End Note.) Dr. Zubairi told EconOff that he had convinced Saleh to open up the hospital to a handful of top military commanders and criticial condition cases from local hospitals so that physicians would not grow bored or lose their dexterity in the operating room. “It was going to be a hospital for one man until I came along.” Despite the widened patient pool, the hospital seemed largely vacant during a September 27 visit by EconOff, filled with three floors of bored-looking nurses and smiling doctors with little to do except wait for new cases to arrive. ¶5. (C) The new hospital is not without its detractors, even within government circles. Aden Free Zone Chairman Abdul Galil al-Shaibi (protect), an economic advisor to presidential son Ahmed Ali Saleh and a member of the National Investment Committee, told EconOff that the disparity between the two institutions was a “shame” and decried the millions of dollars being “wasted” on the Sa’ada conflict when a “few thousand dollars to the Aden hospital would go much farther.” Dr. Zubairi himself comes across as slightly uncomfortable with the grandeur of the underutilized Sana’a Defense Compound Hospital. “We don’t even treat our soldiers wounded in Sa’ada here,” he lamented. COMMENT ——- ¶6. (C) The ROYG’s lavish funding of the new military hospital in Sana’a, and its lack of attention to the Aden hospital, symbolizes a fiscal prioritization trend that could worsen if the budget crisis deepens: regime preservation rather than meaningful economic development for the Yemeni people. Few of Yemen’s urban centers are more devoid of presidential patronage, foreign assistance, or tribal largesse than Aden. Development needs in Aden, like political reforms in southern Yemen, remain glaringly obvious and easily implementable if President Saleh had the will to see them through. In the political sphere, many local observers have long pointed to the continued presence of a handful of Aden-based military leaders, widely considered responsible for the worst instances of corruption and post-unity land grabs, as a major irritant in north-south relations. In the economic sphere, the ROYG’s neglect of essential social institutions in Aden, such as the hospital, is seen as a symptom of Saleh’s unwillingness to take even basic measures to address southern grievances. As the contruction of the new Sana’a military hospital demonstrates, the ROYG’s budget crisis does not apply to items that contribute to regime preservation and the Saleh family’s personal welfare.