Israeli Doctors First Specialists on Scene to Treat Victims of Congo Oil Blast

Two weeks after the death of more than 200 people in an oil tanker explosion in Congo, Israeli doctors will be the first specialists sent to treat the dozens of burn victims who survived the blast.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila telephoned the Israeli delegation to the region to thank its members on Monday night, but activist said it was too limited in scope to make a lasting impact.
On Monday, the Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MASHAV, sent four doctors and a nurse from Sheba Medical Center to the area surrounding the village of Sange in eastern Congo, where a truck carrying hundreds of kilotons of petroleum caught fire last Friday.

“We’re carrying half a ton of equipment to treat 30 injured in two locales,” said Dr. Eyal Winkler, deputy director of Sheba’s department of plastic and reconstructive Surgery. With Winkler are Drs. Shmuel Kalazkin, Ariel Tessone and Gil Gragov Nardini, and nurse Noa Anastasia Ouchakova.

The new arrivals will be working with a U.S.-born Israeli woman who lives in Congo and works with the foreign ministry, Gila Garawy. She says not all the patients are receiving anesthetics in the rural hospitals where they are treated, where electricity and running water are unreliable.

“When I came to visit them I could see their eyes light up with hope because they mistook me for the doctor from Israel they’d been expecting,” said Garaway, whose two sons live in Israel with her seven grandchildren. She also said that she had seen cases in which burn victims became “psychotic from pain.” - Ha'artz

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