It Is All About Cooperation
“One can become a high-achieving person only when s/he adopts an inclusive perspective instead of an exclusive one. The good news is you don’t have to be perfect to start or achieve what you want in life. Joint work and cooperation is the secret of success. From that respect, our students and graduates should start considering joint projects in collaboration with international universities to benefit Palestine.”Dr. Abdulsalam Alkaiyat said.
An-Najah University has a diverse group of leaders and professors in different medical fields. These professors are on the front lines of medicine and science serving individuals and populations locally, nationally, and globally.
Dr. Alkaiyat is one of the University’s most accomplished and passionate faculty members who continues his own research while teaching at An-Najah University. He brings with him a diverse wealth of knowledge. With an enduring dedication to the pursuit of excellence, Alkaiyat brings new insights to the University and his Faculty through joint research and cooperation projects.
He strives to cultivate an environment that promotes inclusiveness and collaboration among the Faculty of Medicine’s students to create new avenues for discussion that will advance one shared mission which is to improve the health of people throughout Palestine in particular and the world in general.
Dr. Alkhaiyat is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, a Public Health expert in Palestine and the wider MENA region, and a Scientific Research Coordinator at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at An-Najah National University. He is also the Head of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health Departments at the University’s Faculty of Medicine and health sciences.
He was born in Nablus and graduated from An-Najah University with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Immediately after his graduation from medical school, he moved to Switzerland to pursue his higher education. He undertook multiple work experiences in Switzerland, and got his MSc inEpidemiology and Infection Biology and his PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the University of Basel.
After 11 years in Switzerland, he came back home, and brought back skills and ideas that changed his country positively. Dr. Alkaiyat returned home with more work experience than people who have never lived or studied abroad, as well as with bigger social networks and novel abilities acquired in foreign schools and jobs. As a result, his homecoming is a kind of “brain gain” that benefited not just his University but also the community, even his country.
“I’ve seen how things can work differently and I’m now determined to contribute to a better Palestine.” He said.
He began working at An-Najah University in 2014 as a part-time teacher, then a year after, he was assigned as a full-time lecturer.“I really cling to the University of Basel” Dr. Alkaiyat said, “I wanted to keep in touch with it”. That is why he came up with the idea of running joint projects with international universities, especially the Swiss. He argued that this will be advantageous for An-Najah University and for Palestine as well.
Based on his vision which is fostering academic relations between An-Najah and well-renowned universities abroad, especially in Switzerland, in 2018, Dr. Alkaiyat organized a conference titled: “Priorities on the Health System in Palestine” in cooperation with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Instituteat the University of Basel. The conference focused on strengthening scientific and academic collaboration and spotted the light on the last findings of joint research projects in the field of public health in Palestine, and out of which eight papers were produced.
Furthermore, the University announced the signing of a number of MOUs with a group of prominent Swiss universities and academic institutes in 2019, including the Swiss academy of science, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and Swiss school of Public Health. The announcement came during the visit of Alkaiyat to Basel, Switzerland, where he discussed possible areas of future joint cooperation. Student and expertise exchange, research cooperation, and joint research were just a few areas that were discussed during his visit.
Another project done in collaboration with Swiss universities is the mental health and heart diseases project. It focuses on the daily tension the Palestinians suffer from due to the Israeli occupation violations which can bring on heart diseases. The project is supervised by Prof. Nicole Probst-Hensch and done by a team led by Dr. Hala Al-Labadi, another Palestinian graduate from Switzerland.
Dr. Alkaiyat, works also as a co-PI for HERA project, focusing on health system response to violence against women in collaboration with Bristol University and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Recently, Dr. Alkaiyat has been managing a collaborative project about anemia with the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine and funded by the World Bank.
How Can Joint Projects Benefit An-Najah University?
An-Najah University participates in several valuable alliances with other universities. Dr. Alkaiyat undertakes several joint educational and research initiatives, creates international opportunities for students, and he paves the way to the University to work with peer institutions on topics of mutual interest such as research funding, and facilitate good practice sharing between university leaders.
“I never stop learning and use my network to change Palestine and my University.” Dr. Alkaiyat answered. He described the privilege of being able to represent the University.
“Through this huge network of partnerships and collaborations as well as the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of our research, the University sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.” He added.
Contribution to Healthcare during Covid-19 Pandemic
Dr. Alkaiyat is a member of many national and international committees, including the national NCD committee and the COVID-19 emergency committee. He serves as a consultant for the government of Palestine on several health issues. Dr. Alkaiyat also is co-leading several international research and intervention studies in Palestine along with the Ministry of Health, other government institutions and NGOs.
As a memberof the COVID-19 emergency committee in Nablus, Dr. Alkaiyat, with other experts, helped in preparing isolation centers in different areas. He also helped in managing the crisis socially and economically, and he was for four months the administrator of Al-Qasr Hotel (Health Care Isolation Center) where patients stay.
During health emergencies and the COVID-19 pandemic, Alkhaiyat also provided advice and guidance, and helped the University to manage the unique health challenges it is facing.
Also, Dr.Alkaiyat has taken on a substantially enhanced role to ensure Nablus is equipped to deal with the pandemic. He meets almost daily and reviews the situation in the city and around Palestine. He looks at the latest research and the situation in other countries to understand what steps Palestine should take to stop the spread of COVID-19. He has directly reported to Nablus Governorate. Dr. Alkaiyat guides the decisions leaders in Nablus make to protect the community. His role is ongoing; he operates outside of COVID-19 as he deals with any health threat related to Non-communicable diseases.
Advice for the Students
Dr. Alkaiyat argued that the most important part of doing anything is to enjoy every single moment, “When I was a student, I did not get a high GPA, it was good but not really high and that was okay because I only cared about what I learn, not on the grades.”Dr. Alkaiyat said.
He insisted that university students should not lose the joy of learning and if students redirect their focus from the score board to the game of learning, an interesting thing happens. He pointed out that focusing on learning creates a direct relationship between input and outcome: the more effort they invest, the greater the opportunity to learn, and they shouldn’t focus on getting high marks for the sake of just getting them.
He said:” GPA is a number that indicates how well or how high you scored in your courses on average and it is one of the most important numbers to keep an eye on. However, you must not get sucked into the academic black hole that is your college GPA, and no one can deny that it is important if you want to continue your studies and apply for a Master’s or PhD degree since at many universities and colleges, your GPA determines your eligibility for financial aid programs, scholarships, and other support.”
He added:” Almost every student on campus frets about their GPA, either wanting to maintain their average score or improve it, which can lead to unhealthy amounts of stress. Still, your grade point average isn’t the most important thing in the world, so you shouldn’t treat it as such.”
Dr. Alkaiyat loves his job and enjoys teaching, and he does not only teach students the academic material, but also teaches them how to utilize their communication skills in fostering relations with universities and institutes abroad.
He, also, advised them “to include, and not to exclude” and to carry out joint projects and programs considering cooperation and teamworkas the secret to success, and for a promising future for the university and for Palestine.