College of Public Health Student at CDC for Summer Internship

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 11, 2011) − Dr. Mohammed Saeed, a second year Master of Public Health epidemiologist student at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, learned about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when he was practicing medicine in Baghdad, Iraq. He was so intrigued by the scientific information offered on antibiotics overuse and how to minimize it, he decided he wanted to actually visit the CDC and get hands-on experience.

Saeed, a Fulbright student, is currently working with the Immigrant, Refugee and Migrant Health Branch of the CDC, which is part of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.  The internship, which began at the end of May, will run through the end of summer.

"Refugees are required to have medical examinations before they arrive in the United States, mainly to screen for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis which is the biggest concern, but also other diseases such as sexually transmitted diseases and to obtain medical history," Saeed said.

Overseas doctors fill out Department of State medical forms for refugees and these forms are later sent to the CDC and entered electronically into the Electronic Disease Notification system (EDN) which enables the CDC to easily notify the state or local health departments about the arrival of refugees with health conditions.

According to the Department of State, between 2006 and 2011, more than 54,200 Iraqi refugees have arrived in the U.S. In 2009, Iraqis were the largest percent of arrivals among refugees.

Saeed will be analyzing the data from the medical forms for Iraqi refugees looking for chronic diseases. Generally speaking, refugees are usually burdened by infectious diseases, he said. However, Iraqi refugees are different as they show high incidence of chronic diseases like hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, most likely due to the widespread prevalence of obesity, he said.

The results of Saeed's work will be useful to the Immigrant, Refugee and Migrant Health branch of the CDC which is working on creating health profiles for refugee populations in the U.S. so that American physicians can check the CDC website for information about the common diseases in a certain population that have immigrated to the U.S. to determine what medical screenings are necessary.

Saeed will complete his Master of Public Health degree at UK in 2012.