My first year working for the Ministry of Health in Cairo, Egypt was an eye opening for me. It was the trigger that brought to my attention the importance of public health and the great opportunities it offers to solve health problems. The cases that came to us in the mother child care unit, where I worked as a primary care physician, showed that many of these health problems could have been avoided with better education and preventive procedures. I was able to interact with a large number of patients from an area of relatively poor and less educated citizens. It was obvious to me that most of the health care challenges this population faced can be easily solved by vibrant and well designed public health programs. Tons of ideas came to my mind with less opportunities to implement. Having studied public health courses during my medical school and knowing how much research has been done in such an important area, I came to realize that raw ideas must be formalized through a rigorous public health studies and research.
My personal and professional life went in a direction different from my aspiration to study and contribute to public health issues. However, throughout my life, the dream of engaging in public health has always been there. Losing a dear friend of mine, a 37-year old mother of four kids to a very aggressive malignant type of breast cancer was a turning point in my life. This vicious illness took her life after six month of suffering from chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and a couple of surgeries. Although negative and sad, her death increased my desire to contribute to the effort of educating the public for such health issues, something that would prevent illness and help save many lives. In addition to that, some friends of mine who participated in the UNICEF health care effort after the Indian Ocean Tsunami just demonstrated the essential need for public health programs. The effort that took place saved the lives of millions of women and children in tsunami affected area with vaccination and supplemental drugs. I never wanted something more than contributing to such effort, which was backed by a solid readiness for emergency and post-disaster operations. Observing the disastrous health situations in many places around the world only revived my old dreams: playing an active role in public health.
I believe diverse environment and unique contexts are important to the success of any research program especially public health. The environment I studied and practiced medicine in was a unique environment from a socioeconomic and cultural perspectives. Growing up in a society where health care is relatively a low priority, attending medical school in the same environment, and having been employed by a government hospital and interacting with a large number of patients loaded my mind with different types of public health issues along side with ideas and solutions. I believe I will bring a lot to the class discussions, research, and case studies. My contribution will increase the diversity of discussions and widen the scope of research and practical consideration.
Joining the Master in Public Health program will be an important step towards my dream to contribute to public health research and practice. It will be a turning point: from aspiration to practice, from rough ideas to formal research, and from good wishes to professional and scientific career. I hope I can bring some ideas to the table and I am sure I will leave with many. This program will be the beginning of the fulfillment of my constant desire to help a large number of people in one of the most essential qualities of their life; their health that is.