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Iraqi health professionals learn skills to rebuild their country's medical services

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Issued:19/12/12

Iraqi doctors and nurses are learning ways to rebuild their country's radiotherapy cancer care in a project run by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and sponsored by the Iraq Ministry of Health.

The five-year project will see more than 400 Iraqi healthcare staff stay in the city to learn about British healthcare, during which they will learn how services at Weston Park Hospital deliver cancer care.

Each group will be shown how the patient pathway is structured and will be given talks and demonstrations from experienced Weston Park Hospital staff and Sheffield Hallam academics.

The group will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience using state-of-the-art linear accelerator machines, with radiographers and medical physics staff giving their time to make this an enjoyable experience for the students.

The partnership between Sheffield Hallam and the Iraqi Ministry of Health is also training doctors and other healthcare professionals across a number of disciplines. 26 Iraqi health professionals studying at the University received healthcare certificates this week (Tuesday 18 December) after a four-month study programme.

The first group of Baghdadi medical physicists began their course in August 2012 and have been very impressed with the level of insight the course has given them.  Amal-al-Musawi, a medical physicist, said the course had highlighted ways to change the radiotherapy care given in her hospital back in Baghdad.

Moira Tomlinson, senior manager, radiation services at NHS Sheffield, said the Trust was very happy to be part of the project especially since it could really benefit cancer patients in Iraq. She said: "The project will hopefully spread our radiotherapy expertise to a country that is really trying to move its healthcare forward after a difficult time and we are proud to be asked by Sheffield Hallam to participate."

Speaking about the course, Dr Christine Ferris from Sheffield Hallam said: "Healthcare in Iraq has suffered over the last decade. There has been a decline in the number of doctors, nurses and other health professionals and consequently the conditions in hospitals have become extremely poor.

English for International Nursing graduates
English for International Nursing graduates - with assistant dean Elaine Brookes
English for International Nursing graduates
English for International Nursing graduates
Ruba Khalid Arif and Tanya Ahmed Shawkat - radiation therapists

Click to view the images

"In the new Iraq, the Ministry of Health's focus is on developing capacity, capability and infrastructure as well as seeking to build relations between private and public sectors. 

"Consequently they have looked to the UK to help support the education and training of doctors, nurses and other health professionals and to rebuild the health system so that it mirrors the multi-professional model of many western countries."

The project is being paid for by the Iraqi government and all money generated by the scheme is being put back into patient care at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

The Healthcare Iraq Project was formalised with the signing of a four-year memorandum of understanding in July 2012. The courses are  Healthcare (for nurses) covering intensive care, cardiac care, renal, trauma, paediatric, burns and operating theatre; Radiation Therapy Physics  and a postgraduate diploma  in radiation oncology (for doctors).

Students will also undertake a six-month English for Academic Purposes course in January 2013.

For press information contact: James Coxon at NHS Sheffield on 0114 2711702 or Laurie Harvey at Sheffield Hallam University on 0114 225 26221 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk