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Lecturer honoured for work in Kazakhstan

Press release issued: 5 June 2002

Media release
Lecturer honoured for work in Kazakhstan

Dr Maggie Somerset, until recently Lecturer in the Division of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, has been awarded a unique honour for her contribution to the health services in Kazakhstan - the first time the award has been given to a non-national.

Dr Somerset, who is now a Principal Lecturer in Health Studies at Bath Spa University College and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, first visited Kazakhstan five years ago as part of a project that aimed to introduce family practice within a country that was struggling to come to terms with huge social and financial changes. The project was funded by the British Council's Regional Academic Partnership Programme.

The purpose her most recent visit to the region last week was to disseminate the final project conclusions at a major conference attended by representatives from the Ministry of Health and heads of the nursing colleges from all over Kazakhstan. However at the start of the conference Dr Somerset was surprised and "hugely honoured" when it was announced that the Ministry of Health wished to present her with an award for her services to promotion of health in Kazakhstan. After being presented with a medal, a document and a bound certificate, a celebratory dinner was given in her honour that evening.

Over the course of her five visits to Kazakhstan - a country that has seen falling life expectancy and increased infant mortality since independence in 1992 - Dr Somerset has advised the national health professionals on a range of educational issues. She has also worked with nurses in polyclinics and in the only hospice to be based on British principles in Kazakhstan. Her many and varied experiences have included a two day journey through mountains to visit a rural clinic, a banquet in a tiny village where she was given the honour of being served a ram's head, and Kazakh television appearances to promote the need for education about health.

Dr Somerset comments: "Over the years I have built up many friendships and have felt enormously privileged to work with such highly motivated and dedicated professionals. The people of Kazakhstan are extraordinarily resourceful and generous, and their lack of material resources has not in any way detracted from their dedication and determination to provide the best health service they can."

The award ceremony was witnessed by representatives from the British Council and Tim Peters, Professor of Primary Care Health Services Research at the University of Bristol, who said: "The award is a fitting tribute both to the success of the project and to Dr Somerset's determination to maintain the partnership with health professionals in Kazakhstan. It was presented with customary warmth and hospitality, and she is quite rightly very honoured to receive this unique recognition of her efforts."

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Wednesday, 05-Jun-2002 15:34:31 BST

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