Iraqi Doctor Shares Experiences of Providing Medical Care in Armed Conflict Zones

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 2-6-2006

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle

Publication Place



An Iraqi doctor, Dr Salam Ismael, recently visited The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus to share his experiences with the University’s medical students, of working in an armed conflict zone.

Dr Ismael is the secretary general of the ‘Doctors for Iraq Society’ – a society which organises teams of volunteer doctors to help people in crisis situations in Iraq. His talk was an invaluable opportunity for the Notre Dame students to hear first hand about the difficult medical working conditions in Iraq, citing examples such as only having local anaesthetic available for an operation that required general anaesthetic.

Dr Ismael’s talk had a profound effect on the medical students. First year student Oliver Duncan said his stories were thought provoking and emotion grabbing. “I feel privileged to have had the chance to attend Dr Ismael's lecture whilst he was in WA. As a medical student it was fascinating to learn of the realities of working as a doctor in war torn countries. Medical aid work is an area of interest for many Notre Dame medical students, so it was fantastic to gain such a personal insight,” he said.

Dr Ismael offered practical advice to students who may be faced with challenging environments in their future careers. “Working in a politically or culturally sensitive environment where there has been a destruction and collapse of infrastructure such as water, medical supplies and sanitation means that doctors must use their skills in more ways than one,” said Dr Ismael.

Second year medical student Simon Clarkson invited Dr Ismael to speak to the students because he felt “Dr Ismael encouraged medical students to ensure that as future doctors we never compromise care to anyone on the basis of race, religion, or geographical region.”