In-depth | Health | Health

Rural doctor

A glimpse into the daily work of a remote health worker.

By - 05.06.2018

Feti Salihu did not think twice about returning to his place of birth when he was given the chance.

Having graduated in 1985 from the University of Prishtina’s Faculty of Medicine — and gone on to complete first his military service then his medical practice in Prizren hospital — within two years of graduating, he had given up life in the city to return to his rural village of Bresanë.

The 60-year-old, who carries a dignified gravitas, has become one of the most beloved people in the village. The four thousand residents of Bresanë, which is part of the remote municipality of Dragash in southwest Kosovo, rely on him and trust him to deal with their health issues.

In addition to his work in both the municipal Family Medicine Center and his own private clinic, Salihu goes door to door offering medical aid to those who need it urgently, without fees or conditions. He’s also regularly stopped on the streets and in cafés to get quick medical tips.

The oldest doctor in Bresanë, in addition to diagnosing health issues and offering regular consultation, Salihu also delivers babies and conducts urgent surgical interventions.

The village’s medical team is mainly comprised of family doctors and nurses, as well as a dentist and a pharmacist.

Bresanë’s Family Medicine Center has a basic laboratory, an ultrasound machine, a defibrillator and an old electrocardiogram machine, equipment that staff say meets their minimum requirements.

However, doctors say they don’t have essential serums for treating snake bites, a frequent occurrence in the Sharri mountains, especially during spring time.

The biggest village in the municipality of Dragash also has an ambulance for transportation in emergency cases. Mostly used to transport ill people to the regional hospital in Prizren, it is driven by a volunteer.

Salihu has an assistant, 36-year-old nurse Vehab Ramadani, who helps with stocktaking and covers for the secretary (Salihu’s wife) when she is on leave. Ramadani also assists with paperwork, receives patients and performs small medical procedures.

Salihu used to share professional duties with a paediatrician but the Family Medicine Center now operates with just two doctors and a dentist.

The Family Medicine Center in Bresanë has seen changes since Salihu started working there in the late ’90s, being completely rebuilt after the war.

Salihu’s patients range from newborn infants to Muhamet Muhameti, who is 100 years old. He also tends to a patient who has been in a coma for over a decade.

For people in the village unable to make it to the center, Salihu performs home visits arranged by a call to his mobile phone.

In his rare breaks, Salihu often orders a coffee from his brother’s restaurant across the street.