News ID: 240348
Published: 1032 GMT March 17, 2019

Cardiff-based doctor sees health progress in Iraq

Cardiff-based doctor sees health progress in Iraq

An Iraqi doctor said he is optimistic for the future of his home country after returning to Wales from a visit following a health scare.

Dr. Laith Al-Rubaiy had raised concern over a diarrhoeal illness in Basra during a water crisis last year, BBC wrote.

The consultant gastroenterologist, who is based in Cardiff, wales, has been nominated for an international award for his work helping improve medical care in Iraq.

He said Iraq was ‘gradually returning to some semblance of normality’.

A year and a half since the defeat of Daesh terrorist group in the country, and six months since Iraq was in the grip of a water crisis, Al-Rubaiy said Iraqis knew not to get their hopes up.

But he said there are signs resilience is growing in important areas of Iraqi society.

"Certainly, in my own field — medicine and healthcare — the country of my birth now has an air of guarded optimism," he said, after returning from a visit two weeks ago.

"A hugely welcome change from the feelings I had the last time I visited. This is a great step forward to provide equality and quality in health services to everyone."

Al-Rubaiy, who lives in Cardiff with his wife, eight-year-old son and daughter, five, is a senior clinical lecturer at Swansea University, and works as a consultant at St Mark's hospital in Harrow, Greater London.

On 21 March, he will find out whether he has won the St David International Award at a ceremony in Cardiff.

He was nominated in recognition of his four visits in five years to Basra, in southern Iraq, where he worked with the Amar Foundation to set up mobile clinics, train medical professionals, establish cancer and virus screening projects and set up Skype consultations with doctors in Cardiff.

Dr. Ali Muthanna, Amar's general director in Iraq, described the level of care provided by Dr. Al-Rubaiy as ‘exceptional’.

"He is a passionate supporter of Amar's healthcare services in Iraq and his voluntary work with us makes a real difference to the lives of some of Iraq's poorest people," he said.

For Dr. Al-Rubaiy, who trained in Basra during the US and allied invasion in 2003, it represents an opportunity to return Iraq's healthcare system to being the envy of the region.

"If this positive momentum continues, it will not be long until the Iraq healthcare system, that was once the best in the region, achieves its full potential," he added.

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