Student Highlight – Jagar Jasem, MD
Dr. Jasem is a physician from the Kurdistan Region/Iraq and is currently pursuing an MPH degree, with a concentration in epidemiology, under a Fulbright Scholarship. Dr. Jasem realized the importance of public health to his country soon after he started practicing medicine. “Unfortunately, the medical practice in my country is based mostly on treating diseases rather than preventing them,” said Dr. Jasem. Dr. Jasem also realized that medical practice in his country was not community oriented, as it is based mostly on using approaches and differential diagnoses currently applied in Western countries, which he believes are not appropriate. “Medical services need to be based on the local health status and disease prevalence,” said Dr. Jasem. “The main reason for the difficulty in delivering preventive and community-oriented medical care in my country is the lack of scientific research in a country barely surviving the aftermath of three major wars in recent history.” After one year of clinical practice, mostly in the emergency room, Dr. Jasem had the chance to work in the Communicable Disease Control Unit in his state, where he was responsible for investigating measles and food poisoning outbreaks, acute flaccid paralysis detection (sponsored by the World Health Organization), sexually transmitted disease screening for sex workers, routine Hepatitis B and HIV blood tests for visitors from foreign countries, and measles vaccination campaigns.
Dr. Jasem believes that his MPH degree, particularly the epidemiology concentration, will prepare him to participate in future research about common health problems in his country and to add a public health perspective to the practice of medicine. Dr. Jasem says he has “already taken a significant step in that direction by conducting a comprehensive epidemiological analysis about the risk factors of measles, its vaccine failure and effectiveness, as well as the performance of a measles surveillance system in Iraq from 2005-2010.” The findings from this analysis were published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Infectious Diseases.