By Bnar Shawki, MD, MBChB, F.I.C.M.S, FIPP, Head of Anesthesia Department in RozhHalat Emergency Hospital, Erbil, Iraq (left); Firas Abdulmajeed, MBChB, Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Neurology, University of Pittsburgh, USA (right)
The population of Iraq is 37,203,000, according to WHO data from 2016. Life expectancy at birth in that year was 68/72 (male/female). The probability of dying between 15 and 60 years of age per 1,000 people in 2016 was 213/133 (male/female). Although we were not able to observe up-to-date accurate published data about the leading causes of death, it is well observed that a high number of those are due to injuries that at large involve traumatic brain injuries. Currently critically ill patient in Iraq, including the neurologically injured, are admitted to general Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and all intensivists staffing these units have anesthesiology background.
Erbil is the capital of the Kurdish region in Iraq; it is inhabited by 2,009,367 as of 2015. Human settlement in Erbil can be dated back to the 5th millennium B.C., and currently it is considered as a major hub for international organizations that are active in Iraq as it is relatively much safer than the surrounding cities.
As part of promoting education in general and neurocritical care in particular, the region witnessed the First International Conference of the Iraqi Kurdistan Society of Anesthesiologists in Erbil-Rotana hotel April 24-26, 2019. A total of 215 participants attended the conference from all over the world, and 24 speakers delivered 25 presentations and four workshops over those three days.
Throughout the conference’s three days, neurocritical care and general critical care topics were covered in the region for the first time. These topics included brain physiology and cerebral perfusion pressure in TBI, introduction to the management of traumatic brain injury and rescue management in brain code. Additionally, there were discussions regarding ENLS, online resources that Neurocritical Care Society provides on its website and brain trauma guidelines.
The team that worked on raising the awareness of neurocritical care as a subspecialty included the authors — Firas Abdulmajeed, MD, and Bnar Shawki, MD, — along with Abdulhameed Al-Dabbagh, MD, president, Iraqi Kurdistan Society of Anesthesiology, each with a major role in starting the spark to promote neurocritical care in Iraq. Dr. Abdulmajeed collaborated with the Neurocritical Care Society, Middle East and Africa Chapter’s chair Yasser Abulhasan, MD.
(pictured right: Abdulhameed Al-Dabbagh, MD)
The attendees of this conference reacted positively to the neurocritical care educational material delivered, and the Society of Anesthesiology in Iraqi Kurdistan is planning to hold another conference in the near future that will focus mainly on neurocritical care.