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A Privilege

12/10/11

Posted by Ahmed Salem, DO (a third year Internal Medicine resident from Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco serving a global health elective in Cairo, Egypt at Kasr Al-Ainy Hospital, Cairo University through the Resala organization.

It was truly a privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside physicians and medical professionals in Egypt. It was an enriching experience which allowed me to reconnect with the reasons for why I went into medicine in the first place. Every moment that I spent with patients I felt my intentions were pure and that I was there to serve and provide any assistance to the best of  my ability. I was able to practice medicine in the largest academic/county facility in Egypt and witness health disparities in a large urban center up-close and personal. I was also able to see how major public health issues, such as the Hepatitis C epidemic, are being dealt with in the developing world. I was fortunate to be able to part take in providing free medical care to underserved rural populations. I worked with an organization based in Egypt and run by locals that has done amazing work throughout Egypt and the entire Middle East. It was truly inspirational to see how people, who despite having their own financial struggles, were giving so much to help others who were in even more dire situations.

On other fronts it was a pleasure and an honor to witness and be a part of history. The current Egyptian revolution effectively removed a 30-year old dictatorial regime which had stifled the both the advancement of medical knowledge and access to advanced healthcare. The change in the Egyptian culture, mindset, and political framework was truly palpable. I felt extreme optimism and hope throughout the streets of Cairo. I am fortunate to have witnessed the first legitimate elections in Egypt’s modern history, which may very well lead to an economic and scientific revolution in Egypt.

I feel grateful to the KP Global Health Program for facilitating this amazing opportunity. I have been fortunate to participate in international medical trips as a medical student and as a resident at previous programs. The Kaiser Global Health Programs excels above the others because of two key components: they allow you the necessary time and the necessary financial assistance for an enriching experience. I feel connected to international medicine and I hope to continue this needed work throughout my career.

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