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A Risk Worth Taking

Helping to Rebuild Iraq's Broken Health System


Ahmed HassoonIn its 2013 list of the best and the brightest young foreign policy leaders, Diplomatic Courier magazine characterizes MPH student Ahmed Hassoon as a “risk-taker.”

The Sommer Scholar is among the “Top 99 under 33” innovators singled out by the publication for “breaking traditional models of thinking.”

For nearly a decade, the doctor and public health consultant has repeatedly put himself in harm’s way to rebuild the decimated health system in his native Iraq.

As an emergency physician from 2004 to 2006, he dodged roadside bombs traveling to work and was often the only doctor at his hospital.

He escaped two kidnapping attempts and on a third occasion was kidnapped and released. He survived a bullet that “only scratched my head” but killed a former professor.

A car bomb destroyed the offices of a program that he directed to return displaced Iraqis to their homes.

In 2011, Hassoon temporarily halted his work in Iraq to pursue public health graduate studies, saying that the stress on his family became too great.

Last year he served as an Atlas Corps Fellow in Washington, D.C., managing global child health care and education programs before entering the MPH Program at the Bloomberg School.

After completing his MPH degree, Hassoon plans to return to Iraq to establish a clinical research center on noncommunicable diseases. He says that his country desperately needs hard data as the building blocks to develop effective health services.

It’s essential work and, for Hassoon, a return to danger on a daily basis.

“Somebody has to do it,” he says.

Master of Public Health Program
Q&A with Ahmed Hassoon