Call for action: Setting the pace for humanitarian efforts

April 2018 – Vol. 37, No. 3

It was the first time they met, but the room was filled with mutual admiration and respect as Eugene N. Myers, MD, and Vlora Çitaku, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, sat down together to discuss Dr. Myers’ efforts to supply medical equipment to the ENT Head and Neck Clinic at the University Clinical Center of Kosovo in Pristina, the capital city.

Eugene N. Myers, MD, AAO-HNS/F Past President, and Vlora Çitaku, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo

“This donation will help more than you could ever imagine,” said Ambassador Çitaku. “Nineteen years ago, Kosovo came out of a terrible war. Everything in Kosovo turned into ashes and everything was destroyed.

Once you are free and independent, you realize survival is not the only worry you have. There are roads to pave, schools and hospitals to build, doctors to educate—everything is a priority.”

The endeavor to donate equipment started in 2016 when Dr. Myers visited a long-time friend and colleague at the clinic, Adem Limani, MD. As he is inclined to do during his travels to hospital and medical facilities around the globe, Dr. Myers inquired about any needs of the clinic. When the response was “everything,” a list was created, and Dr. Myers got to work in fulfilling that need with assistance from the Brother’s Brother Foundation.1

A collection of instruments was secured, and then it was time to work with the Kosovo Embassy in Washington, DC, to ensure they got into the right hands, weren’t held up in customs, and arrived at the ENT clinic to help Dr. Limani and other surgeons treat patients.

The donation, which has since been received by the ENT clinic in Pristina, included the following surgical instruments:

  • Sinus surgery set
  • Neck dissection and multiple soft tissue instruments
  • Otolaryngology microsurgical instruments—mastoid surgery set
  • Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy set

Ambassador Çitaku expanded on the impact of donations like that of Dr. Myers.

“Resources are very limited, and Kosovars spend millions of dollars in trying to get care in countries of western Europe and elsewhere. The healthcare system in Kosovo still cannot provide the sufficient care that is needed. One of the most challenging sectors in Kosovo is the healthcare system. We still do not have a proper health insurance platform in place, and we have a migration of skilled, trained doctors leaving for other opportunities. But help like this, and here and there, is so much appreciated. Those doctors who decide to stay in Kosovo, they are the real heroes because they decide to stay, help, and serve their people. We embrace whatever we can do to make that choice easier for them. Thank you for helping us and helping them.”

Dr. Myers, Past President of the AAO-HNS/F and first AAO-HNSF International Coordinator, has worked throughout his career to provide aid and assistance across the globe.

“Help is always needed in hospitals and clinics around the world, and we need to encourage ways to provide that assistance,” he said. “Not only do we have to get the word out that being generous and being a humanitarian feels good, but we have to inform members that there are mechanisms by which doctors can be generous and partake in these humanitarian efforts. The new device donation initiative through the AAO-HNSF is a good start. I admire what the Academy is doing.”

Ambassador Çitaku added, “It is wonderful to be on the receiving end of the generosity. I hope we can inspire other people, like Dr. Myers and his friends, to be helpful because the world is in need. It is unfortunate that people often forget the difference they can make in someone’s life.”