By Press Office 15 March 2017

For the first time, a QMU graduate has become a finalist in the ‘Social Impact’ category of the Study UK Alumni Awards in Egypt, which take place in Cairo on 28th March 2017.

British Council is the UK’s international organisation for education and cultural relations. The Study UK Alumni Awards, which were created by the British Council in partnership with UK higher education institutions, celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of UK higher education. Award winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries.

Dr Mohamed Afifi, who is from Egypt, graduated with an MSc International Health from the Institute for Global Health and Development at QMU. His work as a reproductive health specialist for the United Nations has been recognised by the British Council for making an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others overseas.

In Egypt, applications were received from alumni across the country, including UK universities in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Fourteen finalists were selected for the Entrepreneurial, Professional Achievement, and Social Impact categories.

Commenting on his award shortlist, Dr Afifi, said: “I’m truly indebted to QMU and the UK higher education sector as a whole. The years I spent at QMU had a really positive impact on me and my professional career. I cannot forget the friendly and supportive environment at QMU. After all these years, I’m still trying tirelessly to integrate all I learnt at QMU into my work to improve the health of women and children.

“As a medical doctor, the International Health programme at QMU was a real eye-opener to the global health world and its different challenges. In my current post, I’m serving as a reproductive health specialist in the United Nations managing and overseeing health programmes in 15 Arab countries - most of which are suffering from man-made conflicts or repercussions from neighbouring countries.

“The cultural diversity that I experienced during my years of study at QMU equipped me with the skills I’m using now in my career as a United Nations official. The QMU experience laid the foundation for me becoming a global citizen”.

Dr Afifi feels privileged to be managing a regional portfolio that enables his efforts to expand beyond the borders of his country. He recently led a regional analysis of health workforce in 11 Arab countries and produced a regional report that targets policy makers with clear and specific policy recommendations. Dr Afifi also led the launch of a regional network of midwives in the Arab region, empowering midwives in 13 Arab countries and making critical steps towards improving midwifery practice in the region by saving mothers' and children's lives.

Professor Alastair Ager, Director of the Institute for Global Health and Development at QMU, said: “Dr Afifi's contributions to the field of reproductive health in the Arab region represent a powerful testament to the transformational nature of UK Higher Education facilitated through British Council support.

“Over the last decade, Dr Afifi has emerged as a key thought leader in the Arab region, bringing a globally-informed perspective to issues of reproductive health that had previously received little attention. Working across governmental, non-governmental and - latterly intergovernmental organisation boundaries, he has shaped programmes and policies that address key emerging health priorities in the region. His work has particular reflected an understanding of emerging challenges related to instability in the region and the importance of linkage of humanitarian assistance to state services.

“This contribution bears the hallmark of his studies at QMU in the early 2000s, where his programme emphasised an understanding of the social and structural detriments of health needs and the capacities of health systems to address them.

“Following his initial MSc studies, Dr Afifi developed a contextual framing of health systems in the Arab world in his MPhil research. It is rewarding to see this analysis bear fruit, especially in his current role as Regional Specialist for UNFPA.

“Given the current challenges faced by health systems across the Middle East, I can think of few more effective ways of celebrating the value of UK Higher Education in contributing to global development, peace and security than to note the achievements of Dr Afifi and observe the transformational contribution of his British Council supported studies at QMU in enabling them.”

Professor Petra Wend, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of QMU, added: “We’re delighted that Dr Afifi has been shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s Study UK Alumni Awards in Egypt and that he is continuing to demonstrate the value of a QMU education in his home country.

“Awards such as this are a huge endorsement of QMU graduates as individual, of QMU as a University and also to the entire UK Higher Education system.

“We were hugely impressed by Dr Afifi’s application. He is truly a leader in his field and has used his experience of studying at QMU to make a positive contribution to reproductive health care in many Arab countries. I’m sure that his work towards improving midwifery practice in the region will undoubtedly lead to saving the lives of mothers and babies.”

Visit the Institute for Global Health and Development at QMU for more information.

For more information on the British Council and Education is GREAT Study UK: Discover You campaign and the Study UK Alumni Awards, visit: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/discover and www.britishcouncil.org/education-uk-awards

Notes to Editor

British Council Scotland Advisory Committee

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Professor Petra Wend, is a member of the British Council Scotland Advisory Committee. For more information, visit:

https://scotland.britishcouncil.org/programmes/scotland-advisory-committee

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the Arts and delivering education and society programmes.

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org.eg/en

You can also keep in touch with British Council Egypt through www.facebook.com/BritishCouncilEgypt

For further media information contact Lynne Russell, Marketing Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk  T: 0131 474 0000, M: 07711 011239 and Jon Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: jperkins@qmu.ac.uk T: 0131 474 0000.

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