Great news for Kosova!

The contribution of Dr. Rifat Latifi to his homeland is an inspiration to everyone

By Harry Bajraktari

The nomination of Dr. Rifat Latifi as the new Minister of Health is great news for Kosova.

A consummate professional, an expert of international reach, a pioneer of the most advanced techniques of telemedicine, and an inspiring humanitarian, Dr. Latifi brings renewed hope to our dear Kosova. Like many countries in the world Kosova has struggled with the pandemics, scrambling to reorient its limited resources to face this challenge. In his new position, Dr. Latifi comes as the right man in the right time.

I have known Dr. Latifi for many years now and I am proud to call him a friend. We had the opportunity to reconnect and revive our collaboration when he returned to New York as the Director of Surgery of the Westchester Medical Health Center and New York Medical College.

I had the honor to join him in his historic initiative which aimed to secure funding to support the next decade of work of Kosova’s College of Surgeons. This institution was founded by Dr. Latifi and it was modeled after the American College of Surgeons, of which Dr. Latifi has been a longtime member. He is also a member of the International College of Surgeons.

From the time when he was a professor at the University of Arizona, working on the groundbreaking Telemedicine project, he worked hard to include Kosova and Albania in the short list of countries that implemented this new combination of advanced technology and medicine. It made possible for medical expertise to reach poor and isolated places that lacked adequate medical personnel and service.

So, Dr. Latifi has helped improve the situation of public health and health services in Kosova for many years now. I can only imagine how much more this young country can benefit from his new role as minister. I also commend Prime Minister Albin Kurti for this choice.

It’s a testimony of Dr. Latifi’s love for his country of birth that he is leaving behind a great career in the United States and moving back to Kosova.

Indeed, Albanian-Americans have played an historic role in helping Kosova, from the dark days of the Serbian occupation and repression to the war of liberation. After the independence, a number of Albanian-Americans and compatriots of the larger diaspora have moved to Kosova as leaders, professionals, investors, and in other capacities to help the youngest country in Europe toward a brighter future. Only a few days ago, a Kosova-born, successful architect from London, UK, Përparim Rama, was elected as mayor of Prishtina.

I wish Dr. Latifi success in his new position as minister and may his example inspire many others to place their talents and knowledge in the service of Kosova.

Dr. Rifat Latifi (right) during a visit in Harry Bajraktari’s office, in Westchester.