Khaldoun Al-Assad is a 2009-2010 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at Tulane SPHTM. In Syria, Al-Assad works in primary health care as Chief Director for the Quality Assurance Program, reporting to the Ministry of Health in Syria. He shared his thoughts on global health.
GH: How do you define global health?
KA: I believe that in any part of the world, you cannot be isolated from the other parts of the world, especially after the revolution we’ve seen in transportation and communication.
If a disease or epidemic starts in one place, it can spread to the whole world. We saw this with the H1N1 flu, recently.
So, I believe that this Earth is our home, and we are all family members, regardless of our differences in race or religion. I’ve been traveling a lot, and I’ve seen that what brings people together is stronger than what separates them. This planet is our home, and we have to keep it and ourselves healthy. Those who are healthy need to help those who are sick.
GH: What were you doing in Syria before coming to Tulane?
KA: I worked in primary health care centers in Syria as a physician for many years. I also was head of the primary health care department in the Quneitra Governorate, which is one of 14 provinces in Syria. Most recently, I implemented quality assurance programs for health services in Syria.
GH: How important is Tulane’s commitment to global health to you?
KA: Actually, this is one of the reasons why Tulane is one of the best schools. When I came here and told people that I was from Syria, I was surprised to find that many knew where Syria is and what’s happening there. This isn’t always true in other places, because most people focus on what’s happening in their nation alone. If you are interested in public health, you will gain a very broad view about global health issues at Tulane.
GH: What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
KA: As I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places around the world, I’ve been comparing their health systems. What I like about the United States is the high quality of service in hospitals. I would like to take what I’ve learned about quality assurance standards and apply it to the work I’m doing in my country.
Tulane University is one of the partners on the USAID Global Health Fellowship program to help recruit and mentor public health professionals with an interest in international health and development.Read more about Al-Assad and the other 2009-2010 Humphrey Fellows here.