Ibrahim Bou Orm, 27, from Beirut (Lebanon), is currently studying for a PhD full-time within the Institute for Global Health & Development (IGHD) at QMU.

Ibrahim first heard about QMU and IGHD in February 2017 as a participant in a workshop organised by IGHD in Beirut, in collaboration with the American University of Beirut (AUB). The workshop focused on health systems resilience in emergencies through systems analysis of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provision of health services to Palestine refugees displaced by the Syria crisis.

Ibrahim has already qualified as a physician from Saint Joseph University in Beirut and has a Master’s degree in Public Health from the American University of Beirut. He also has several years’ experience coordinating projects on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCD), such as cancer and diabetes for the Ministry of Public Health in Beirut. He has co-authored several papers on cancer screening behaviours amongst Lebanese women, as well as the epidemiology of diabetes, waterpipe smoking and cognitive changes among older adults in Lebanon.

After winning scholarship funding, Ibrahim is now undertaking his PhD research as part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Unit on Health in Fragility (RUHF) within IGHD at QMU. The Unit focuses on addressing the delivery of vital health services in places where displacement, conflict, pandemic disease or weak capacity makes this especially challenging.

Funded by NIHR as one of thirteen Global Health Research Units across the UK to lead research in key areas of relevance to global development, RUHF links researchers from IGHD, including Ibrahim, with collaborating partners across the world, with a particular focus on the Middle East and West Africa.

IGHD is recognised as a world leader in two major areas of research – health systems and mental health provision. The work of the NIHR Unit brings together these two major strands. Countries affected by war, civil unrest and the impact of the refugee crisis present huge challenges to the delivery of vital mental health care services and treatment for non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

The £3.5 million research grant from NIHR is now allowing IGHD to collaborate throughout the four-year programme with fellow researchers at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) at the University of Sierra Leone, and the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut. Together, the partners are looking at ways of strengthening the resilience of health workers and clinics, and the work of local community groups, to develop new ways of providing vital services in even the most fragile of circumstances.

Why did you decide to study for your PhD at QMU?

“I was already aware of the established research links between QMU and AUB, where I studied, so it seemed like a great opportunity to build on my knowledge and experience by undertaking my PhD research in an institute that is leading global health research with a special focus on health systems in the unstable Middle-East region.

“IGHD is dealing with today’s challenges by enhancing population health around the globe. The research led by the Institute is at the front line of saving lives especially in disfavoured nations. It is built on partnership with people working in different settings. I think that makes the journey of studies here at QMU a very enriching experience.”

Are you enjoying living and studying in Edinburgh so far?

“Edinburgh is a beautiful and peaceful city. It also has a very diverse and multi-cultural population, which really appeals to me. I settled in quickly and I feel like I’m getting attached to the city somehow! I always find something new to discover in Edinburgh and every time I feel amazed at the natural beauty of the city.

“This semester, I’m living in the student accommodation on the QMU campus, which is really convenient for learning, social and sports facilities. It has a great community feel too.”

Do you have any financial support for your PhD research?

“I received a scholarship, part of the NIHR-funded project, which is covering the tuition fees and living expenses for the three-year programme and is funding my research on health in fragility that I will be conducting in Lebanon.”

How do you think your PhD research will equip you with the skills and knowledge to develop your career?

“I’m getting the methodological skills and the global health knowledge that will hopefully allow me to lead global health research in fragile situations. My scholarly work is in a tight connection with global health practice as well, meaning it will help me understand the complexities around contemporary health issues and be ready to encourage positive change at the level of my country, the region or even the world.”

What are your plans after graduating from QMU?

“I hope to use my knowledge and skills to develop my career working for an international health organisation, a development agency or perhaps an academic institution generating knowledge for better health policies and practices.”

Institute for Global Health & Development

www.qmu.ac.uk/schools-and-divisions/ighd

NIHR Research Unit on Health in Fragility (RUHF)

www.qmu.ac.uk/ruhf

Postgraduate funding

www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/fees-and-funding/postgraduate-funding

International students at QMU

www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/international-students

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