Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

The Power of an Idea: Using ICT to Help Iraqi Healthcare – Donations Needed!

There have been two recent interesting stories about helping Iraqi medical professionals. Before I begin, please see the request for donated medical textbooks at the end of this post. The first story is about an ICT non-profit in San Francisco that is helping equip (with computers) and wire up 19 teaching hospitals in Iraq. The organization, Wired International, was founded in 1997 with a mission to provide “medical and healthcare information, education and communications resources to communities in developing and post-conflict regions”. They seem to have achieved both scale and scope, since that time they have 76 information centers in 11 countries that serve 1 million year. Now they are getting involved in Iraq:

News Release, Jan 27, 2007 –
“Thanks to communication Professor Gary Selnow and his dedicated band of volunteers, Iraq’s medical schools are no longer without critical telecommunications and access to global databases. After equipping medical information centers at 19 Iraqi teaching hospitals, Selnow and WiRED, the nonprofit he founded to do this work, finalized arrangements to equip an additional 20 centers throughout the war-torn country. For the first time since Saddam Hussein cut off communications between Iraqi doctors and the rest of the world, faculty and students have the technology to consult with colleagues in other countries and tap such critical information sources as those at the World Health Organization.” (State Department press release can be found here)

The second story has to do with an almost accidental wide scale mission to supply Iraqi clinicians with up to date medical textbooks and journals. The doctor who started this never expected so much support. It is a neat story that is worth reading. DONATIONS are still needed, please pass the word (info on donations is at the end):

The Power of an Idea: Help for Iraqi Medical Professionals, Excerpts from Medscape:
Nearly 3 years ago I learned from my son, then in Iraq with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, that the medical college in Tikrit had virtually no teaching or research library. I also learned that, for historical reasons, Iraqi medicine has been taught in English since Iraq was a British protectorate following World War I. My initial reaction was to seek a few donated copies of textbooks from distributors and publishers for them…

After publishing this first Medscape article, donations from Medscape readers began to be sent…Thus began a totally volunteer project that has no formal name, no budget, and no staff, but that has met with astounding success… The influence of the Internet is such that the AMA’s American Medical News, the Associated Press, the newsletter of the American Medical Library Association, and others have subsequently publicized the program, bringing in new interest and offers to donate.

The true heroes of this story are the American military personnel who have volunteered to receive and distribute donated publications…What has also become apparent is that there is at least equivalent heroism among the Iraqi medical professionals who struggle with limited resources to provide the best possible care to their patients. Donations now far exceed 200,000 textbooks and nearly a half million professional journals.

***Donations Still Needed: Please Help***
The need for medical publications remains largely unmet. Our contacts in the region describe the situation clearly: “This area has very competent physicians and healthcare providers who simply lack the necessary supplies and resources to perform at their true potential. They do a fantastic job with extremely limited resources and anything that can be done to help them is a true blessing. Clinics and hospital are very short on modern books and recent journals.”

Iraqi medical training and practice is modern although severely strapped for resources. Their needs are for contemporary publications, both texts and journals. The Iraqi Ministry of Health has requested that donated text editions have publication dates no earlier than 2000 or, for journals, nothing published prior to 2002. Primary care materials are very useful in community clinics. Specialty materials are extremely scarce in the hospitals and teaching institutions and will also be well received. Pharmacy, physical therapy/rehabilitation materials, dental, and veterinary publications are useful with no language barrier to understanding.

Please contact David B. Gifford, MD at dgifford at for up-to-date information about how and where to send donated medical publications and medically related materials.

Other sources: Michael Yon


Written by Aman

January 31, 2007 at 6:18 am

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