Old rivalries were rekindled as presidents of the Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) Debate Society, past and present, reconvened to mark the club’s tenth anniversary with one more battle of wits.

Fourth-year WCM-Q medical student Eman Mosleh.

The debate brought together current Debate Society president, Amina Kunnummal, a first-year medical student, with seven former holders of the post, including three returning alumni, to debate the motion: This house believes that regarding the opioid crisis in the USA, ‘the market decides’.

Introducing the event, Dr Rodney Sharkey, associate professor of English and WCM-Q’s debate society coach for ten years, said that it’s extraordinary to celebrate decennial as a club.

Full credit to these presidents, and the members, for sustaining this club with such enthusiasm for a decade. We look forward to another ten years. Debate is vitally important for a healthy society to thrive and prosper.’

Contested according to the British Parliamentary format, which pits four two-member teams against one another, the debate teamed returning alumnus Dr Emad Mansoor (Class of 2014) now a Gastroenterology Fellow in the Digestive Health Institute at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Centre/Case Western Reserve University, with Amina Kunnummal to give the opening argument for the motion, while Mountasir El-Tohami (Class of 2019) and Eman Mosleh (Class of 2018) opened against the motion.

Dr Ahmed Almeer

The closing argument for the motion was made by first-year student Shahryar Rana and Ahmed Almeer (Class of 2017), who is now a first-year internal medicine resident at Hamad Medical Corporation. Finally, Dr Mustafa Abdulkarim (Class of 2016), currently on the psychiatry residency programme at HMC, gave the closing argument against the motion alongside Dr Mariam Gabrial (Class of 2014), who is now a paediatric resident at the University of Buffalo.

Addiction to opioids has become an epidemic in the US, with many patients becoming hooked after receiving prescribed synthetic opioid pain management drugs, such as fentanyl. Research has shown that many patients switch from prescribed drugs to illicit opioids after their course of treatment ends.

Arguing for a free-market approach to opioid distribution, Dr Mansoor pointed to a successful model of light-touch regulation in the US state of Vermont.

As doctors, we should robustly defend the patient-doctor relationship, which is what medicine is all about, from interference by the Federal Government.

Amina then argued that excessive regulation can prevent patients from accessing prescribed medications, driving them into the arms of dealers of illicit drugs, often with devastating consequences.

The Debate Society is one of the most popular and successful student clubs at WCM-Q, attracting a steady supply of members since it was formed back in 2008. WCM-Q debaters have won the Qatar National Debate Title four times, the Qatar National Debate League three times and have competed at the World University Debate Championship held annually and variously in Europe, South America, Africa and South East Asia.

Following a closely fought contest, the judging panel awarded victory to the closing opposition team of Dr Mustafa Abdulkarim and Dr Mariam Gabrial.

For more information about WCM-Q, visit their website at qatar-weill.cornell.edu.