A doctor from Bedford Hospital has returned from war-torn Iraq, where he was bringing his Arabic colleagues up to speed with the latest developments in his specialist field. Professor Robert Thomas was the first non-Iraqi doctor to give a scientific presentation at the first Cancer Conference to be held there following the recent conflict.
The two-day conference in Baghdad saw delegates guarded by concrete blast walls, tanks and Kalashnikovs as the country’s local oncologists were updated on the latest developments in the management of patients diagnosed with cancer, Professor Thomas, who is a consultant oncologist at Bedford Hospital, and teaches at both Cranfield and Cambridge University, said: “Although the security situation has improved enormously there were still three fatal bombs in the city in the days before and after the visit and gunshot could be heard throughout the conference.
“Most of the Iraqi doctors who attended the conference would not have been able to travel to international conferences in recent times to take advantage of the learning opportunities available. “It was a privilege to travel to Iraq and to be able to help the country’s doctors improve cancer care for their people.”
He added: “After I was given this opportunity, I felt compelled to accept, despite the obvious risks.“Even though I am only one person and just a civilian, this conference is a symbol of peace and however small the impact on the eventual end of their internal conflict, it is my duty to help.”