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Eight Health Students Among Fulbright Scholars to Study In the United States

Journey begins in Washington; meetings with President Bush and Secretary of State Powell

WASHINGTON-Secretary of State Colin Powell welcomed the 25 Iraqi participants in the Fulbright International Scholarship Program to the U.S. State Department on Monday, February 2, 2004. Among the group were eight who will begin their advanced studies in various health fields later this year. This group marks the return of Fulbright scholars from Iraq to the United States after a 14-year hiatus. The U.S. government suspended the Fulbright program in Iraq in 1990 when Saddam Hussein denied Iraqi scholars the freedom to travel abroad. "Our best colleges and universities welcome you with open arms," said Powell. "They will do their utmost to help you continue to grow professionally and personally.

"Your country will not only need your professional skills, Iraq will need your activism to create a vibrant civil society, form an accountable representative system of government and establish independent media that will help your people represent and present their views to the government," added Powell.

The group also met with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House on February 4, 2004. Earlier this year, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer announced the selection of this group of Iraqi Fulbright scholars.

These individuals will spend up to two years participating in academic programs at American universities in the field of public health.

The initial Fulbright outreach in Iraq produced thousands of inquiries and hundreds of applications. Nearly 400 qualifying applications were reviewed by two independent, bi-national committees in Baghdad. Finalists were selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

The application process for the next group of Iraqi applicants will begin in March. The Fulbright program is sponsored by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since 1946, it has organized the exchange of more than a quarter million people between the United States and other countries.

The public health scholars include:

Shaheen Riadh Jihad Abdullah, Public Health, (Baghdad)
Shaheen, a 26-year old Fulbright visiting student, graduated second in his class from the 6-year program at Baghdad Medical College in medicine and surgery in 2001. He established the "Doctors for Iraq" society. He has been working since 2001 at the Yarmook Medical Directorate. He was one of only six doctors to continue working in the Surgical City Hospital during the war.

Atheer Ja'afar Ahmed, Public Health, (Baghdad)
Atheer, a 27-year old Fulbright visiting student, graduated with a degree in medicine from Baghdad University in 2000, finishing tenth in his class. Atheer has served as a civilian health advisor for the U.S. military. On April 10, 2003, he became the first interpreter to volunteer with the Americans. He has recently been in residency at Baghdad University in pediatrics, and is part of the teaching staff at the University. He is also the managing editor of the Iraqi Journal of Medicine and a member of the Iraqi Medical Association.

Fadi Abdul Ahad, Public Health, (Baghdad)
Fadi is a 27 year-old Fulbright visiting student with a medical degree from Baghdad University. He is a resident doctor at Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital.

Ahmad Mahmud Al-Hadidi, Public Health, (Mosul)
Ahmad, a 31-year old Fulbright Visiting Student, graduated from the six-year program at the Mosul University College of Medicine with a degree in medicine and surgery in 2000. He recently worked as a research assistant in pediatrics and the emergency ward at the Mosul University Community Medicine Department.

Farhad M. Saleem Mohammad Hasan, Public Health, (Mosul)
Farhad, a 27-year old Kurdish Fulbright visiting student, graduated first in his class from the six-year program at Dohuk University College of Medicine with a degree in general medicine in 2000. He is a registered member of the Medical Council of Iraqi Kurdistan, and has worked as a senior house officer in medicine at Azadi General Hospital in Dohuk, working in surgery, obstetrics, and pediatrics, among other fields. He also has taken computer training coursework.

Chalak Najat Muhammad, Public Health, (Arbil)
Chalak, a 29-year old Fulbright visiting student, graduated from the University of Salahaddin, College of Medicine in 2003. He lived in Iran from age 1 to 10, and speaks Arabic, Kurdish, English, Farsi and Turkish. He previously worked with the Mine Advisory Group, a British NGO that clears mines and offers assistance to victims of landmines in Iraq. Since August 2002, Chalak has been the Deputy Health Coordinator for Qandil, a Swedish humanitarian NGO that focuses on improving health, water, sanitation and construction conditions in Iraq.

Ali Muhamad Hama Amin, Public Health, (Arbil)
Ali, a 29-year old Fulbright visiting student, has a medical degree from the University of Salahaddin. He also pursued postgraduate work in child and adolescent psychiatry. He studied specifically, children who were traumatized by organized violence and war. He currently is a resident doctor in the Department of General Surgery at the University of Salahaddin.

Lazha A. Talat, Public Health, (Arbil)
Lazha, a 24-year old Fulbright Visiting Student, has a bachelor's degree in medicine and general surgery from Salahaddin University. Lazha has been working as a house officer doctor in various hospitals in Iraq and for the Directorate of Health.

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