Sommer Aldulaimi receives MedGlobal Humanitarian Award

Feb. 29, 2024

Sommer Aldulaimi, MD, an associate professor and co-director of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Global Health Programs in the Office of Global and Border Health, received the MedGlobal Humanitarian Award for starting the American Academy of Family Physicians Basic Life Support in Obstetrics Program in Bangladesh. 

Sommer Aldulaimi, MD, holding a smiling baby in front of a MedGlobal backdrop.

Sommer Aldulaimi, MD, who takes her son James to conferences with her, said working in a refugee camp was a reminder of how lucky she and her family are to live in the United States.

Kristen Rundell, MD, professor and chair of UArizona’s College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, said the department is proud of Aldulaimi. 

“Dr. Aldulaimi exemplifies the tenets of family medicine and the essence of humanity of the medical profession,” Rundell said. “She is nationally known for creating and establishing a multidisciplinary refugee clinic at our family medicine location on Alvernon Road in Tucson. Her model of care was published in the Family Practice Journal. It is not only a model of care, but a foundation and structure to care for some of the most complex patients in our health system and community.”

Aldulaimi led the project in Bangladesh last year, teaching basic obstetrical life support to midwives and physicians working at the Rohingya refugee camp along the border with Myanmar. The camp is the world’s largest refugee center, with more than 1 million people.

“That was the first time I had actually been to a refugee camp and seen the other side of where my patients in the U.S. come from,” said Aldulaimi. “It was absolutely incredible being part of a project to help decrease maternal mortality for the Rohingya people in Bangladesh. There are so many incredible people doing work like this and being recognized is a huge honor.”

Aldulaimi, who earned her undergraduate degree, medical degree and completed her residency at the University of Arizona, received the award in November during the MedGlobal conference in Chicago. MedGlobal is a humanitarian and nongovernmental health group that helps vulnerable communities by providing innovative, free and sustainable health care.

As the child of immigrants who came to the United States from the Middle East, Aldulaimi said her time at the camp made her think about how incredibly lucky she and her family are to be U.S. citizens. The Rohingya people have no homeland, have been targeted for genocide by Myanmar’s government and less than 1% have been resettled in another country, she said.

Aldulaimi said it is devastating to see such hardship and how many people, especially children, die. She said she copes by focusing “on the difference I am making, however small it might be, with the work I am doing to try to decrease maternal and childhood mortality in these areas.”