MD Nemam Ghafouri, Märsta, has passed away, at age 52. Her next of kin are her mother Gulzar Hassan Jalal and nine siblings, of which seven are living in Sweden.
Text: Anders Emmelin, Urban Janlert, Karin Johansson, Lars Weinehall
Nemam Ghafouri was born in Kurdistan on Christmas Day 1968. When she was 20, her parents fled to Sweden with her and seven of ten siblings. She studied Swedish and completed upper secondary education. After that she began medical training, first in Hungary, then at Umeå University in Sweden. She got her degree in 2001. Years 2001 to 2003 she also studied for the Master´s in Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.
Her courage, capacity for initiative, her flair for organisation and her empathy has inspired many working with global health for peace, liberty and justice among our students as well as many colleagues around the world.
Nemam returned to her home country several times. From Västerbotten and her studies in epidemiology, she was impressed by the work to map and prevent cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in Northern Sweden. There was nothing similar in Kurdistan. She initiated an investigation of the health situation regarding cardiovascular diseases in the part of Kurdistan situated in Northern Iraq, using the WHO protocol “MONICA – Monitoring trends in cardivascular disesase” as a model. Over a short period during 2006 and 2007, without any research grants, she collected information about health and risk factors from almost 3 000 adults in five Kurdish cities: Duhok, Amedih, Hawler, Choman and Suleymani assisted by friends in those cities.
The war and the attacks from Islamic State intervened and she never got the chance to analyse her data. Even before the war she spent time on voluntary work both in India and Ethiopia. When the war escalated she became involved in helping the children who were the first victims of the war. She had special focus on the Yasidian women (a religious and ethnic minority in Middle East), who were captured and killed or enslaved by the Islamic State forces, since they were not Muslims.
In 2014 Nemam founded “Joint help for Kurdistan”, a non-governmental organisation which captured most of her involvement. She financed her work in Kurdistan by short temporary jobs as physician both in Sweden and Norway. Her significant work has been documented in a number of reports in newspapers and in TV, in both Sweden and many other countries.
Nemam Ghafouri passed away on April 1st with covid-19 at the Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm, in the presence of family.