University lecturer aims to provide medical help to Basra via the web

An award-winning Swansea University lecturer is hoping to provide medical support to people in Iraq from his surgery in south Wales via the internet.

Dr Laith AllRubaiy with young patientsDr Laith AlRubaiy, a clinical lecturer in gastroenterology at Swansea University Medical School and a doctor based at the University Hospital of Wales, has recently helped treat displaced families on the outskirts of Basra.

He is currently working alongside Iraq to try and set up the system which will work to help improve the lives of some of the country’s poorest citizens.

Earlier this month, Dr AlRubaiy, who is originally from Iraq, spent several days with doctors from the UK-based international charity, AMAR International, and its mobile health clinic, helping to treat scores of patients in war-torn Iraq.  

With the Basra region being so remote, the mobile clinic tours local communities, offering an opportunity for internally displaced people to access basic healthcare.

As well as providing child health vaccinations, Dr AlRubaiy’s workload involved treating chest infections, diarrhoea, and infectious diseases, partly due to insanitary conditions. During his trip, he was also invited by the Iraqi Medical Association to deliver lectures to medical staff.

In 2017, Dr AlRubaiy was recognised as Young Gastroenterologist Doctor of the Year 2017 by the British Society of Gastroenterology. Trained in Iraq, he graduated from Basra School of Medicine in 2003 and worked in Iraq until 2005. He has lived in Wales for the past 10 years, working in Bangor, Swansea, Llanelli, and Merthyr Tydfil.

Dr Laith AlRubaiy treating a young childIn Basra, hospitals were well-equipped and staffed, but the issue was maintaining continuity in services due to an inconsistent electricity supply and issues with equipment maintenance.

Dr AlRubaiy said: “There are a lot of obstacles, but everyone is trying their best to overcome them in order to be able to treat people the best they can.

“When I left Basra in 2005, there was a huge gap in medical education, but the gap has narrowed. I am very optimistic for the future.

“I am currently liaising between Iraqi and British doctors and officials to establish Skype clinics that will hopefully provide medical advice and consultations to patients in underserved areas in Iraq. I am also in the process of setting up the required equipment, staff, logistics, and funding for the project”.