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April 25, 2017

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Awards Two Scholarships to Displaced Syrians

Two Syrian medical doctors receive full tuition to the Bloomberg School’s Master of Public Health program

Two Syrian medical doctors displaced by that nation’s ongoing conflict will attend the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health starting this summer on full-tuition scholarships to the Master of Public Health program.

The scholarships­ were created in late 2016 by the Bloomberg School and the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health in response to the worsening Syrian refugee crisis. Applications were accepted from displaced Syrian health care workers who wanted to learn new skills that they could use to rebuild their country’s health care infrastructure when they are able to return. 

“There are thousands and thousands of Syrian health care workers who are either not able to practice or not able to continue their education because of the war,” says Paul Spiegel, MD, MPH ’96, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health and a professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School. “We are excited to welcome these two doctors to the school where they will learn from us and where we will certainly learn a lot from them.”

The scholarship recipients are Alfred Tager, MD, and Mohammad Darwish, MD, both of whom originally hail from Damascus, the capital and Syria’s largest city.

Tager is currently a senior research associate at the Charleston Area Medical Center Health Education and Research Institute in Charleston, WV.  He would like to eventually work in an academic teaching hospital or humanitarian organization that focuses on the underserved. 

“Although I was unable to prevent many deaths in my country during this war, this scholarship will allow me to learn from public health leaders and use this knowledge to help save lives in my country going forward,” Tager says.

Darwish is now based in Lebanon with the Palestine Red Crescent Society. He provides training in first aid and disaster management in support of refugees living in Syria and Lebanon. He says he hopes to help rebuild the health system in Syria one day.

“Saving a patient's life is every physician's dream. To me, becoming able to save lives on a much larger scale and help raise the health care system from under the rubble again and plan for the well-being of the generations to come is my dream,” Darwish says. “A Master of Public Health is a crucial step on this road and I feel very grateful to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for this initiative in a time where most of the world has turned a blind eye to the tragedy of the Syrian people.”

According to the UN Refugee Agency, nearly 5 million people have fled Syria since 2011, seeking safety in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond. Millions more are displaced inside Syria.

Dean Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, says the School looks forward to having these two doctors begin their coursework.

“Syria is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” Klag says. “The Bloomberg School is pleased to provide this opportunity for Syrian students to obtain skills in public health to help address the health needs of Syrian refugees.”

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Media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Brandon Howard at 
410-502-9059 or brandonhoward@jhu.edu
 and Stephanie Desmon at 
410-955-7619 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu.