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EBM in Syria: it’s not just peace we need!

Posted on 24th April 2013 by

Tutorials and Fundamentals
doctor cartoon

EBM in Syria

Professor Clive Adams and Dr. Adib Essali

Clive Adams & Adib Essali at a workshop for medical students in Syria

If you haven’t heard of Syria before, you probably got introduced to it during these past two years – it’s been making quite a buzz on the news! But before we were caught up in this bloody civil war, individual efforts were being made to introduce EBM into the everyday practice of every Syrian physician and medical student. For a couple of years many conferences, workshops, and lectures were held with an increase in audience numbers with each event. Most of these events were organized by Dr. Adib Essali a Syrian psychiatrist who also, fortunately, happens to be my father. If it weren’t for his passion for EBM and for spreading the word about it in Syria I probably would have never heard of EBM until a very late stage in my career. Did I say never? Yes I did, and no it’s not an exaggeration; Of the six medical schools in my country, zero include EBM courses in their curricula. If you were interested in learning about anything that has to do with EBM from critical thinking to preparing a systematic review, you had to do it yourself; hear about it yourself, realize its importance yourself, and find an appropriate learning resource yourself. As tiresome as that may sound, I’m proud to tell you that a considerable number of Syrian medical students/graduates have already published systematic reviews or are working on it – myself included.



A little history: Back when there was no internet or even DVD’s, The Cochrane Library was distributed by CD’s and Syria contributed to the very first one

How we do things

Sir Iain Chalmers

Iain Chalmers giving a lecture at conference in Syria

Heard about EBM? You’re interested? Want to learn more? Alright! Gather a group of your colleagues, get in touch with Dr. Adib Essali, agree on a date and voilà! you got yourself a two day workshop on EBM and how to read and prepare a systematic review! If you had come before the crisis, the workshop may have been attended by guest stars like Sir Iain Chalmers, Professor Lelia Duley and  Professor Clive Adams who have shared their knowledge with Syrian medical students in previous events.

OK, that sounded like an advertisement but seriously that’s how it’s been going for several years now, and I can safely say, with success. Many of the students who have attended a course/published a review are currently continuing their postgraduate degrees abroad but eventually they will come back and practice medicine in Syria, so it’s soothing to know that a significant number of the next generation of doctors will be backing their treatment plans with evidence. Also, one could hope that a number of them will end up teaching future medical students about EBM until our universities are willing to take up that responsibility.

I’m hoping that my fellow Syrian medical students take this post as a personal message to them and that they start with baby steps here on this website. It takes a little effort, but you can provide for yourself what our education system failed to provide you with. There are plenty of tutorials, websites, and learning resources that are being put up on this website that will help guide your learning process, I hope that you take full advantage of it.


Some of the Systematic Reviews co-authored by Syrian medical students:











Find Testing Treatments by Imogen Evans, Hazel Thornton & Iain Chalmers in PDF files here (Both in English and Arabic):



Norah Essali

Hi! I'm a medical student from Syria. I hope you find my posts useful! View more posts from Norah

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