The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF) recently awarded a $5,000 Quality of Life Grant to WiRED International, a nonprofit organization that provides information and communication resources to benefit disadvantaged people worldwide. The generous contribution will help fund Phase-II of WiRED's ongoing Medical Centers in Iraq program, with a primary focus on the Spinal Cord Hospital in Baghdad, which was damaged by a bomb at the United Nations Headquarters in Iraq last August.
The CRPF Quality of Life Grant could not have come at a more appropriate time. Spinal cord injuries are prevalent in Iraq. While statistics about spinal cord injuries are not available, it is likely that the number of occurrences has increased due to the recent conflicts. Spinal cord injury patients include members of the Iraqi military and citizens who are victims of accidents and multiple military conflicts.
A recent assessment, on the needs of local Iraqi institutions and organizations, carried out by the Provisional Ministry of Health board (the planning group organizing Iraq's new healthcare system) attests to this. The board concluded that information about spinal cord injuries topped the list of urgent requests by the healthcare community throughout the country.
Under Phase-I of the program, WiRED launched four Medical Information Centers (MIC) in Baghdad with assistance provided from the U.S. Department of State. Twenty-five networked computers were installed as the main component of the Centers.
WiRED's goal under Phase-II of the program—with additional funding by The Medtronic Foundation, U.S. Global Technology Corps at the U.S. Department of State, Affinity Internet, Inc., and Pfizer Global Foundation—is to establish a comprehensive Medical Information Center in every medical school and ten key hospitals in Iraq.
By establishing these Centers, WiRED offers an inexpensive means of disseminating information on spinal cord diagnosis, treatment and development—a "luxury" which was previously denied to the Iraqi medical community.
The Quality of Life Grants were established in 1999 by Dana Reeve, CRPF Director and Chair of the Quality of Life Grants Committee, and has since donated $3.5 million to "organizations nationwide that help improve opportunities, access and day-to-day quality of life for individuals living with disabilities, primarily paralysis, and their families."
The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation funds research that develops treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other central nervous system disorders. The Foundation also vigorously works to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities through its grants program, Paralysis Resource Center, and advocacy efforts.
For more information on the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation or the Quality of Life Program, visit www.ChristopherReeve.org.
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