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Global Health Doctoral Student this year's representative in Global Swede

News: May 17, 2017

Meet Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb, a doctoral student in global public health, who represented the University of Gothenburg at this year’s awards ceremony for Global Swede in Stockholm on May 10.

Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb will soon finish his postgraduate studies at the Department for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He has just been notified of when he is going to defend his dissertation: in mid-March of next year. Now he has “eight months to get it done”, he says with a terrified delight.

His dissertation topic concerns refining a method used to determine causes of death in countries where it is not possible to carry out autopsies on a large scale. The method is called Verbal Autopsy, and it is based on a questionnaire given to the relatives of the deceased person. The method has been used for over fifty years, and thanks to a new web-based system, the method has become even more reliable, systematic and accessible.

Strengthen scientific collaboration

“We do not know the cause for over 60 per cent of all deaths in the world, and this is most common in low-income countries. This is a major public health problem, because governments therefore lack the proper basis for legislation and health-related policies,” says Laith, who also teaches several courses in the master’s programme for Global Health and Public Health, and also in other programmes within the University.

Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb uses South African conditions as a model in the dissertation.

“This project has the potential to strengthen scientific collaborations between GU and other national and international organisations within the field of global health,” says Laith.

Honoured to represent the University

The ceremony for Global Swede was held on May 10 in Stockholm. Global Swede is part of the government’s and the Swedish Institute’s long-term relationship building programme with international students in Sweden. The hosts for the ceremony were Ann Linde, Minister of EU Affairs and Trade, and Annika Rembe, Director General of the Swedish Institute. The purpose is to build long-term bridges of multicultural and global networks that can lead to new solutions in the future for Swedish trade and employment.

University campuses in Sweden send representatives to the ceremony, and Laith says that he was truly honoured to be the representative for the University of Gothenburg.

“It was an event with a genuine and warm feeling that surely touched all participants that day. Besides the actual received diploma, the event had another message by adding more courage and enthusiasm to students, universities and diplomats for strengthening the Swedish-Global relationship in different scientific and cultural disciplines. I trust that, the Swedish government deeply acknowledges the invaluable gains from facilitating such remarkable opportunities to sustain fruitful relationships with the world. I am certainly very pleased and highly appreciated this great nomination.

Very fond of Sweden

Laith is indeed a global person. His father is from Iraq, and he himself was raised in Dubai and educated in the UK. He is very fond of Sweden. His first encounter was five years ago as a tourist, and some time later he chose to take his master’s degree in Public Health Science in Umeå. He was recruited to the University of Gothenburg by Max Petzold, who is one of the founders of the Health Metrics Unit at the Sahlgrenska Academy, and now the head of the Swedish National Data Service (SND). Laith’s wife, who is originally from Lebanon, is currently studying pharmacy at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

“We are getting on very well in Gothenburg. Our son is two and a half years old, and he was born here. He will probably be a true Gothenburg boy,” says Laith with a big smile.

BY: Elin Lindström Claessen

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