06 October 2003
Sri Lankan doctor Naadhura Nanabutckrama was planning to go to work in London next month, but the United Nations Volunteer Programme was seeking doctors to work in Trinidad and Tobago and he changed his plans "to serve the community in a place where help is needed."
This is the first time he is participating in the UNVolunteers Programme. Dr Naadhura is among the first batch of 17 United Nations Volunteer doctors who will begin work at the end of next week. He is the only one so far, who has worked in a war zone.
Dr Naadhura was trained at Moscow Medical Academy and will be doing general and orthopaedic surgery at the Accident and Emergency Department of the PoSGH. Asked about his experience during a war he said in Sri Lanka there are many military operations involving government groups against the terrorist organisation TTA. He was recruited to work in "a very big military" operation in 1997-1998 and saw many casualties.
"We had to design our own surgeries, we were able to do a lot of life saving surgeries." Dr Naadhura said doctors had to develop techniques because there were gunshot and mortar blast injuries not described in any medical book. "You have to stick to the basics of medicine and press on." He said doctors had to decide on the spot what to do, plan the surgery and plan the management of the patient afterwards. Working in TT is not "exciting" for Dr Naadhura, who said it is more of the same routine he had for the past nine years when he worked at Sri Jayawardhanapura Teaching Hospital in Sri Lanka. This facility has over 1,000 beds and is regarded as one of the largest hospitals in south-east Asia. He said the UN doctors will be trying to do the best they can "hand in hand" with local doctors. Dr Naadhura said it is also an opportunity for teaching and training, which he did in his home country. Commenting on the cosmopolitan group of UN doctors, he said doctors from each country will bring "their own flavour of medicine." He said UNDP has given "big assistance" in getting medical practitioners with a vast variety of flavours. More UNVs are expected by the end of this month.