In Gaza, hand surgery gets remote assistance from Beirut

Wed May 4, 2016 1:29pm EDT
 
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BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza/BEIRUT (Reuters) - At a hospital in northern Gaza, a young patient is being prepared for hand surgery as one of the doctors leading the operation watches on -- from nearly 200 miles away in Beirut.

In the Lebanese capital Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta is guiding colleagues at Gaza's Al-Awda hospital via an online interactive platform known as Proximie, which allows the medical teams to communicate and work together via tablet computers.

Doctors in Lebanon attempted remote surgery in the region for the first time at the weekend with the tool. Its makers hope it will help doctors such as Hafez Abu Khousa in Gaza, whose patient needed specialist plastic surgery his team could not provide unaided.

"It is like the consultant is with you in the same room, giving you an opinion so that the surgery can be perfect," Abu Khousa said after the operation.

He was guided via live video and by his Lebanese counterpart drawing markers over an image of the patient's hand.

Gaza has been run by the Islamist Hamas movement since 2007. Since then, Egypt and Israel have maintained a blockade on the territory, carefully monitoring the flow of goods and people to and fro. Restrictions on imports and fighting in the region have also affected medical facilities.

(Reporting By Yara Abi Nader and Sabreen Taha; Writing by Rose Wyatt; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

 
Palestinian surgeon Hafez Abu Khousa (R) looks at a screen as he is guided by doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta in Beirut during a Proximie surgery, in the operating room at Al Awda Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem