(Left to right: Prof Deborah Bax (University of Sheffield); Dr Conor Maguire (VP International, RCPE); Dr Jawad Rasheed (MIZAN); Prof Derek Bell (President, RCPE), Prof Nigel Bax (University of Sheffield), Keith McKellar (CEO, RCPE), Dr Catherine Calderwood (CMO for Scotland)).

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (the “College”) and the Medical Institute of Imam Zain Alabdeen (MIZAN) in Iraq have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop collaboration in training with medical trainees and trainers in Iraq. 

Edinburgh and Iraq have a rich and linked medical history. In 1927, the first medical school in Iraq was created in Baghdad by University of Edinburgh graduate, Sir Hendy Sinderson, who became its first Dean. It was based on the Edinburgh Medical School curriculum at the time and has influenced the curriculum of newer medical schools in Iraq. Iraq has a greatly creative and influential history, pioneering work on algebra, paediatrics, the wheel, maps, the first schools, and much more.

The MoU, which was signed on Thursday 9 January in Edinburgh, provides a framework for closer ties and cooperation around areas of mutual interest, and to the benefit of medical trainees and trainers in the whole of Iraq and Kurdistan.  

Specific areas of collaboration will include:

  • The development of shared learning resources for medical trainees and trainers, including the development of clinical simulation centres in Iraq and Kurdistan
  • Live educational events, which will be web-streamed by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to locations in Iraq
  • Holding joint scientific meetings in Iraq
  • The development of opportunities for medical trainees from Iraq and Kurdistan to undertake some of their training in the UK
  • Examiners from Iraq and Kurdistan and from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to share experiences and learn from each other

It is also hoped that the MoU will lead to cooperation on post-graduate examinations at all levels, including support for training for exams in Iraq. 

Work on the MoU has been ongoing over recent months, and was finalised for the beginning of 2020. The College has had active engagement with Iraq over recent years. RCPE President, Professor Derek Bell, has visited Iraq and took part in constructive meetings there on the future of health and care in the country. The College also co-hosted a successful medical conference in Erbil in November 2018.

Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said:

As a College we want to forge international links to help us learn from each other and improve the quality of medical education and training. I am therefore delighted that the College and MIZAN have announced this MoU which will strengthen the historic medical bonds between my organisation, Edinburgh, and Iraq. I am grateful to Dr Rasheed for travelling to Edinburgh to sign the MoU, and for his support. The College is of course very grateful too, to Nigel and Deborah Bax who have really helped us get to the point of signing the MoU.

Nigel and Deborah Bax, RCPE Fellows, University of Sheffield Iraq Office said:

We are truly delighted that the College and MIZAN have announced this MoU, which we hope will enable rich and enduring professional links to be re-established and be of help to Iraq and its citizens. We will all learn so much from this.  The fact that the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh wants to become involved in medical training in Iraq means an inestimable amount to Iraqi medical professionals, and indeed the Iraqi people, at this challenging time.

Dr Jawad Rasheed, Director of Medical Education and Training for MIZAN and Secretary General of the Arab Board for Medical Specializations in Iraq, said:

I am delighted that this MoU has been signed by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and MIZAN.  It is an important indication of ever closer ties between medical institutions in Edinburgh and in Iraq, which is built on strong historic foundations. This MoU will allow both sides to explore, together, how to improve the standard of medical training in Iraq and it will hopefully give Iraqi medical trainees the chance to train in Scotland.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen p.gillen@rcpe.ac.uk 0131 247 3658