A multilateral initiative for medical students in Gaza to complete their academic year

Written By Mark

The head of the Palestinian Doctors Association in Europe, Riyad Masharqa, revealed an initiative for medical college students in the Gaza Strip to complete their academic year, in cooperation with the Islamic University and Al-Azhar University in Gaza, and with contributions from other parties.

In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, Dr. Masharqa said that the initiative targets about two thousand medical students who were stranded and unable to complete their studies as a result of the aggression launched by the Israeli occupation against the Gaza Strip since the seventh of last October.

Initiative parties

He pointed out that this initiative is based on several integrated parties:

  • Firstly: The Academy of the Palestinian Doctors Association in Europe, which was established two years ago, represents a scientific arm of the Doctors Association, and aims to provide continuous education and training, and support medical specialties in all of Palestine.
  • secondly: The medical colleges in Gaza, whether at Al-Azhar University or the Islamic University, are the basis on which this initiative is based, as they will be assigned the tasks of supervising the curriculum, evaluating, and approving university degrees.
  • Third: Supporting parties: The educational platform for the initiative was designed by a South African company as a contribution to standing by the victims of the aggression on Gaza, and there are 5 medical colleges in Ireland that have expressed their willingness to contribute to this project.
  • Fourthly: Volunteering. When contributions to this initiative were opened, more than 250 consultants across Europe volunteered to teach and prepare students.


The head of the Palestinian Doctors Association in Europe explains the curriculum on which this initiative is based, saying that the administration at Al-Azhar University and the Islamic University are the main pillar and the first sponsor of this project, as they were before the aggression on Gaza.

Masharqa added that the study materials will be placed on the designated platform, and every student will register for them, and university officials will monitor the extent of each student’s achievement, conduct the usual assessments and tests, and then approve the university degree, as was happening during the period of the Covid-19 virus.

Regarding the practical aspects of the students’ studies, the same spokesman said that these students had accumulated practical experience during this war, as they were performing all the roles that doctors perform, “and in this project we were keen to fill all the gaps in the scientific aspect.

Challenges on the road

However, this project faces some obstacles – as Riyad Masharqa sees it – which are as follows:

  1. During more than 8 months, all life in the Gaza Strip stopped, and with it studies, universities, and most of the educational infrastructure.
  2. As a result, health services were disrupted, after many hospitals, universities and places where these students taught were bombed.
  3. Most of the students were displaced with their families more than once depending on the course of the battles and the targeting of different neighborhoods, and some of these students left the Gaza Strip.
  4. Lack of learning requirements such as computers, the Internet, and textbooks. A large number of medical personnel, numbering about 500, and their families were martyred.

Funding sources

The head of the Palestinian Doctors Association in Europe speaks about the elements of financing the initiative with great optimism, and says that they are among the most important factors that help in the success of the project, especially with creativity in planning and careful study. He mentioned that among the most important sources of funding are the following:

  • The parties supporting the Palestinian people, especially the State of Qatar and many Arab and Islamic countries that have honorable positions in supporting the Palestinian people.
  • Associations that are currently studying providing students with the devices and equipment necessary for the teaching process, as well as transporting students from tents and places of displacement to study centers and hospitals.
  • The budget allocated for this initiative is very modest, and does not require high costs, especially since it targets about two thousand medical college students in their various stages of study.
  • This project is expected to last from 3 to 5 years if the war stops now, because this is the time it is expected that the study will need to return to normal.

Educational initiatives

Regarding other initiatives aimed at medical students completing their studies, Dr. Masharqa told Al Jazeera Net that there are several countries that are preparing to provide scholarships to about 170 students who are currently outside the sector, until they finish their practical training. He added that these countries include South Africa, Pakistan, India, Qatar, and Egypt.

The head of the Palestinian Doctors Association in Europe indicated that there are persistent attempts currently being made in Egypt with Al-Azhar University in order to accommodate the largest number of Gazan students, and he stated that the educational environment in Egyptian universities is the most appropriate for these students, because they will be in an academic and popular environment that embraces them and interacts with them. The cost of living remains the best for them.

It is noteworthy that last March, Al Jazeera Net conducted a special meeting with Dr. Riyad Masharqa – a specialist in plastic surgery – after his return from Gaza, where he was among several delegations sent there by the Palestinian Doctors Association in Europe, given the need of the health sector following the targeting of hospitals. And medical personnel, and in light of the Israeli siege and aggression that continues to this day.