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American Muslims contributing vitally to U.S. health care and medical research

Under unprecedented spotlight since the 2016 election campaign, American and immigrant Muslims have found a new ally in the form of a treasure trove of authentic statistics springing from research institutions, analyses and discourse.

President Donald Trump’s recent decision to seek Supreme Court’s reinstatement of his federal court frozen travel ban for citizens from six Muslim majority countries provides another opportunity to showcase the role American Muslims play in wide-ranging areas.

One area, where immigrants from Muslim majority countries have contributed crucially to the United States’ well-being is health care services.

For example, The Medicus Firm, a company recruiting medics, reveals that 15,000 doctors working in the U. S. came from the seven Muslim majority countries – Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen – initially included in the travel ban executive order.

Of these, 9,000 doctors emigrated to the U. S. from Iran, while 3,500 came from Syria and more than 1,500 from Iraq, which no longer is on the list of countries covered under the proposed travel ban.

American Muslims, who are just one percent of the total U.S. population, have made enormous contributions to the health and medical fields. In several rural areas and small towns Americans get health care services from immigrant medical practitioners, including Muslim doctors.

         Dr. Ayub Ommaya Photo Credit: Fugu99/Wikimedia

Pakistan, a large Muslim majority country, is one of the top five countries contributing medical experts including doctors to the U. S. According to a Pakistani organization, the number of Pakistani-American doctors is nearing 20,000. They work all over the United States, with many of them practicing in states which need them the most, in rural areas far away from the East and West coasts.

In fact, one of the most prominent doctors in recent world history was a Pakistani-American neurosurgeon, Dr. Ayub Ommaya, who famously invented the Ommaya reservoir, which is employed to provide chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumor site for treating brain tumors.

He has been described as one of the most important Americans who shaped America with their individual achievements.

A prominent researcher, Samir Iqbal, serving as associate professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Arlington, achieved a remarkable breakthrough when more than a year ago he developed a device that helps in detecting cancer early.

More recently, Dr. Rashid Chotani ,  a known expert in Washington metro area, won “Scientific Achievement Award 2016” from the NATO Science and Technology Organization in recognition of his extraordinary performance in research on medical countermeasures against biological agents.

According to figures cited by organization IntraHealth International, there are 656,000 doctors and surgeons working in the U. S. with 254,000 of them being immigrants.

Another report estimates around 10 percent of the doctors in the U. S. are from Muslim countries, and 52 percent of researchers in the medical fields are immigrants.

As elsewhere in the developed world, medical profession as a life-saving mission remains a service at the heart of the health of the nation and the true worth of the services that immigrant doctors and physicians provide can hardly be measured in dollars alone.

With a growing population and expanding development needs, contributions of American Muslims in the medical field will remain invaluable.

Clearly, a blanket ban on new skilled and qualified immigrants would adversely affect health care services in America. It would not only send a negative signal about Muslims to all Americans but also keep the much-needed trained and talented workforce out of the country.

The Trump administration should not ignore the impact of such decisions on health, security and development of the country, while it takes measures to protect the nation.

American Muslims’ contributions in the medical field are just one part of their larger success story that sees them realize the American Dream to colossal advantages for the United States to remain a leader in medicine, information technology, engineering, and many other fields of sciences as well as arts.