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Archive for January, 2010

Iraqi Doctors-Healers In A War Zone

January 28, 2010 1 comment

Hello it’s me again ! :)… This blog post is written by my most senior neurosurgeon at our college Dr Ali Al Shalchi :
The health care services in Iraq are mainly divided to goveremental and non goveremental (public and private)…. There is no clear cut line between those two categories… About 80% of the doctors and parastaff work in both public and private sectors for financial support , or the lack of feeling of job security as the future of your career in any of the two sectors is never guaranteed, so you wouldn’t want to put all of your egges in one basket , and the same is true for Iraqi patients who use public and private health care services both at the same time- public because it is free of charge and private because it is advanced and better developed… the remaining 20% working exclusively for the public sector are having a big under carpet battle against the 80%, of course they lack the number of fighters but they have the laws in their hands which they can almost always manipulate. The presence of this continous battle is not always bad as the Iraqi patient can benefit from it considering the fact that private health care services are now much more developed and advanced than they used to be before… Unfortunately this is not the case with public health care services as there is the lack of modern and advanced equipments, having machines that are out of date, lack of modern and effective medications, and of course the after 2003 problems-politicising public health care, sectarian attitude and tensions, and also the security threats that health care professionals have to face (threats, kidnappings, assassinations, ect., ect.,),although at the moment those security threats are not as serious as they used to be before, not to mention of course the problem of brain drain and the immigration of qualified health care professional to outside Iraq… The past 6 years have witnessed an enomerous increase in the number of training programmes for Iraqi doctors to the outside of Iraq including Europe, India, ect., ect., with an excellent feedback but of course still with much placebo effect by out of reality programmes or self ambition programmes but the net result was positive by all means.
Since last yeat, the trend in the Iraqi ministry of health was to initiate primary, secondary, and tertiary health care centres which is an excellent step to help ease the pressure on our hospitals in one hand and make use of the primary health care services which were almost doing nothing but vaccination and delivering drugs for chronic diseases… This is a real chalange, and if it can succeed then it will be a very important asset to public health care sector in Iraq if it can succeed.. The other duty of the health care foundations in co-operation with the ministry of higher education is training of medical students, I was able to visit UK at 2007 and I can say with confidence that our training programmes for under-graduate students are really excellent and up to date…. The last thing that I would like to say here is that all we need is more organization as our doctors have been doing an absolutely fantastic job in a country that has suffered a great deal over years, both before and after 2003…

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The NOAH Iraq Project-Our Children Do Deserve Better

January 15, 2010 2 comments

Hi it’s me again ! :)… This post is written by Dr Mohammed Twaij, an Iraqi paediatrician living in London and one of the guardians of the NOAH Iraq project down there in the UK :
Dear Friends,

Spirit of the story of Noah

The story of Noah and the flood is stated in The Torah, The Bible, and The Qur’an.
The story of Noah reminds us of our humanity and our limitations and the need to lend hand to each other especially during the time of calamity and tragedy. The spirit of this story is to remind us that we all have a responsibility to treat each other respectfully and to abide by golden standard of laws that are basic to humanity living peacefully and righteously in a civilized society. It teaches us to respect God’s Laws and the laws of morality and to abide by social, legal and spiritual paths which stem from God’s laws. It is a good reminder to all of us of a new beginning for human on earth and how “Noah” suffered and persevered to reach safety.

Iraqi children are suffering and they need our help. This is reminded me when I visited the Paediatric Oncology Department in the Medical City in Baghdad twice within a matter of seven months in 2009 during which time two of lovely young children died either because of late diagnosis and/or lack of appropriate and adequate medications. It is really sad when you feel you can do some thing to stop children from dying in front of your eyes, but at the same time you will be led down due to lack of resources, equipment, trained personals, short of medications, and needless to say poor educational programme.

The story of “NOAH” Noah Oncology And Haematology Hospital for Children

A group of dedicated and determined professionals in UK, studied this tragic reality of our children in Iraq and decided to embark on a humanitarian project to elevate the plight of those children in need. The project was born from the deep and unnecessary suffering of those children with cancer.

NOAH’s vision is to establish a charitable medical centre of excellence based in Iraq, offering equal opportunities to all children free modern- evidence-based treatments; thus providing health care services according to the highest international standards. We reckon the cost of such project is estimated at £60 Million in order to have a modern and fully operational Hospital.

Childhood cancer in the developed world enjoyed consistent improvement over the years and the children are surviving longer. The survival rate is estimated around 80% although it varies with the specific diagnosis. However, the survival rate in Iraq is a sad story and it is 35-40%.

The best available data from Iraq suggest that there are about 8000 newly diagnosed cancer case, and we estimated that about 2000 of them are children per year. This means that approximately 700-800 of such children would have been cured but the majority of them (1200-1300) with cancer would die unnecessarily for the reasons above.

We are aiming to establish Noah project on the same principles of the successful experience of the 57357 hospital for the treatment of children’s cancer in Cairo, in Egypt, which is the second largest hospital of its type in the world,

We direct our appeal to the good and generous People of Iraq, to contribute to the effective and meaningful achievement of this humanitarian project, urgently needed so we can put a stop to the needless death of Our Children simply because they are unable to access appropriate treatment.

We would emphasise that we cannot achieve this great medical feat which will be a shining
beacon throughout the region and the world, without the support and efforts of the generous People of Iraq.

You can get more informations about the NOAH Iraq project by visiting the website http://noahiraq.org and also you can ask for more informations by leaving a comment on this blog post and Inshallah I will get back to you… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

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Our Election-Our Choice

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi it’s me again ! :)…. Today is Friday, a part of the weekend holiday in my Iraq (which lasts for two days-Friday and Saturday), and I am stuck at home trying to study, the only way I get to leave my house is when I go to my college, that’s not the typical picture down here but it is because of so many sad personal reasons that I do not want to bore all of you with, so here I am sitting infront of my laptop with my book in my lap and drowning in my own thoughts… On the 7th of March 2010 there’ll be parliamentary elections in my Iraq (hopefully)… Sometimes I like to close my eyes and I just try to fantasize about my Iraq (not the current one but the one I want it to be like), but the vision is always blurred and not clear… I always keep telling myself that may be the picture will get clearer and less blurred after the 2010 parliamentary elections, after all those elections will be a very important landmark that will decide our future for four years to come… Now in these elections there’re two main political agendas that will furiously fight with each other inorder to get the approval of ordinary Iraqis, the 1st one has this national approach that seeks to unify all Iraqis together and deals with our Iraq as one strong and sovereign unit, while the 2nd one has this sectarian approach that seeks to make our loyalties to our ethnic and religious background more important and vital to us than our loyalty to our beloved Iraq… The people standing behind the 2nd agenda flourish and blossom via creating fear and inciting hatred and sectarian tensions amongst ordinary Iraqis, they want to make us lose hope in the idea of ”unified Iraq” and turn to our sects and tribes for protection from this factitious danger they themselves have taken a significant role in creating, they even exploit religious emotions and rituals inorder to make political gains ahead of the elections… Of course there’re also other political agenda and other people standing behind those agendas, there’re the former Baathists who despairedly seek to return to power falsely disguised as nationalists, and also there’re those people who are promoting and encouraging foreign interferences in our Iraq, ect., ect.,. The good news is that we’re the ones who get to decide who gets to power, and that’s why raising awareness and talking about the issues that matter to us the most are xtremely important… We should care and we should work on making this election succeed because if we screw it up then we will all lose…. Much love and blessings to all of you from my Baghdad, the city of pain, hope, and magic tales… Yours forever, Lubna….

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Hello From Baghdad

January 7, 2010 1 comment

Hello, it’s me Lubna in Baghdad, Iraq and this is my very 1st post on this blog, so please go easy on me and give me a chance OK ? :)…. These days I am taking my neurology clinical rotation at Baghdad Teaching hospital (Which will end by Sunday Inshallah)… One crucial problem that most ordinary Baghdadis seem to suffer from on daily bases is the intolerable traffic jam caused by the endless number of military checkpoints imposed on Baghdadi streets, roads, and bridges by the Iraqi security forces, making it almost impossible for most Baghdadis to get in time to the places they want to get to… As for me, my clinical sessions at the hospital usually start by 8:30 AM, but I have to leave my house by 6:50 AM otherwise I will never make it to our hospital in time… Sometimes I joke with my friends about that telling them that my Baghdad is actually turning into the West Bank because of the endless number of military checkpoints that you have to go through before reaching your final destination…. These military checkpoints are an integral part of this security strategy employed by the Iraqi security authorities inorder to keep law and order in our Baghdad… After each major security breach (like bloody Wednesday, Sunday, and Tuesday) the number of military checkpoints imposed on the ground by the Iraqi security authorities significantly increases, yes, we tackle the disaster after it actually happens, but to avoid the occurance of the tragedy ? No, that doesn’t seem like a part of our security strategy… The real question here is how can we define ”security improvement” by Iraqi standards ? If you block most of Baghdad’s main streets, roads, and bridges, fill the city with blast walls, and impose an endless number of military checkpoints on the ground and still you get major security breeches that hit intensely guarded government targets and cause large numbers of civilian casualties every now and then then does that count as a security improvement ? By our Iraqi standards, may be…. Back to me at our hospital, I hear patients and their families complain all the time about how difficult it is to reach the hospital in time especially when the clinical condition of the patient is emergent and requiring an immediate medical intervention, but the real trick is when the patient collapses after it gets dark, then getting him/her to the hospital safely in time is the real challenge…. As for me, I have learnt with time to sleep in the car once we get stuck at a traffic jam, it is a useful strategy, very efficient indeed… Much love and blessings to all of you from my Baghdad, the city of pain, hope, and magic tales… Yours forever, Lubna…