Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria Focuses on Helping the Less Privileged

IMAN National president Dr Salisu Ismail making a remark at the international conference IMAN
IMAN National President Dr. Salisu Ismail making his remarks at the IMAN international conference Abuja, July 19, 2016. Photo/IMAN

Islāmic Medical Association of Nigeria (IMAN) was founded in the Holy city of Makkah/Mecca Saudi Arabia in the year 1989 by a group of Nigerian Health Professionals performing that year’s Hajj (Muslim pilgrimage to the Mecca).

The Association was registered with the Nigerian Cooperate Affairs Commission in 1994 with the overall objective of fostering a closer a union of all Nigerian Muslim Health Care Professionals, to render greater services to humanity in the country.

Other major objectives on why IMAN was created is to foster unity among Muslim medical/health professionals in Nigeria, enhance better understanding of healthcare within the framework of Islam, and to promote research and publication in the field of Islāmic medical ethics.

IMAN National President Dr. Salisu Ismail explained the history of IMAN during the 17th annual IMAN International Scientific Conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital July 19-20. He also said that the group will begin an intervention program to assist patients with heart ailments across the country.

The heart ailments specifically are congenital and acquired heart diseases. Congenital heart anomaly or congenital heart disease is a problem in the structure of the heart that is present at birth. Signs and symptoms depend on the specific type of problem, while symptoms can vary from none to life-threatening. Acquired heart disease is much more common in adults than in children. But the two most common acquired conditions among children are rheumatic heart disease and Kawasaki heart disease.

According to Dr. Ismail, it is a known fact that due to economic hardship many Nigerians cannot afford their medical bills, particularly in treating these ailments which is why IMAN decided to intervene.

Dr. Ismail who also acts as head of the Cardiothoracic division, Department of Surgery, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital Sokoto, said the intervention project would go a long way to help people with heart congenital and acquired heart diseases in Nigeria.

I asked the doctor via email if any statistics were available for adults and children currently hampered by heart ailments in the region but unfortunately, according to him, there is not. “Due to lack of uniform data it will be difficult to give a statistics of number of people with such ailments across the country. Nigeria has poor record keeping and so the figure will be difficult to get,” he said.

members of FIMA and IMAN in a group IMAN
Members of FIMA and IMAN in a group photograph. Photo/IMAN

But according to data from the World Health Organization, over half a million Nigerians died from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in 2012, and 1 out of every 5 Nigerian adults over the age of 30 will likely die prematurely from NCDs, including cardiovascular diseases.

In terms of risk factors for heart disease, 35% of Nigerian adults had elevated blood pressures in 2008, another 6.5%, mostly women, were obese. These numbers are likely to increase substantially in the near future given the significant changes in Nigerians lifestyles and habits that are making them more susceptible to these diseases.

The conference brought together Muslim health experts from different parts of the country and the Federation of Islāmic Medical Association (FIMA) member countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Palestine, Malaysia, Bangladesh, North America, Turkey, Uganda, Algeria, Niger Republic, Lebanon, South Africa, and Sudan.

During the conference health related issues were discussed among which is introduction and acceptance of the new project called FIMA Save the Hearth in Nigeria. They discussed how the project will go a long way to help patients with congenital and acquired heart diseases in the country.

Participants say less privileged Nigerians who cannot afford their medical bills to treat these ailments have nothing to worry about with professional bodies like IMAN, FIMA and other Non-Governmental Organizations willing to assist through the project.

Free Surgeries

Dr. Ismail said in the statement presented at the conference that they equally organized free surgeries for 500 patients with cataracts. Cataracts is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts can occur in either or both eyes but it cannot spread from one eye to the other, it is treatable and the procedure usually costs up to 10 thousand naira, Nigerian currency equivalent to about 30 USD.

100 others with Vesico Viginal Fistula (VVF) were given free surgeries as well, VVF is an occurrence of an abnormal hole between the bladder or rectum and the vagina, characterized by continuous and uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces. Experts explain that 90 percent of VVF cases are caused by prolonged unattended obstructed labor during child-birth, while other causes include harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation among others.

The surgeries for the 500 people suffering from cataracts according to IMAN’s President were carried out in north central, and northwest Nigeria while that of VVF was done in the northeast, north central, and northwest regions of the country. He also said some of the cataracts patients were operated on during the international conference held in Abuja (July 19-20) as part of the activities of the conference.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the conference the participants urged the government to provide the much needed medical and relief materials to improve the living condition of victims of armed conflicts, especially internally displaced persons in the northeast.

They equally urged Muslim health care providers to equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge of prophetic medicine to bridge the gap in its understanding and application.

Other recommendations

  • It is the responsibility of every health care provider to preserve the faith, life, intellect, lineage and wealth of their patients which are all encompassed in the purpose and guidance of Sharia.
  • Muslim health care professionals should continue to serve as role models by fostering harmony and promoting the spirit of teamwork and positive communication in the health sector.
  • Increased access to qualitative health care services is needed. The government should make health a fundamental human right and enforce this right by providing universal health insurance to all citizens and adequate funding of healthcare.
  • The conference enjoins on the global community to give due recognition to all the neglected Muslim scholars who were some of the founders of modern medicine.