by Dr. Khalid N. Mayah, Hospital Director
Wired International and the International Organization for Migration www.iom.int have collaborated with our hospital to develop an electronic library—the Medical Information Center. This facility, on the fifth floor of our hospital, is one of ten Medical Information Centers installed by WiRED and IOM in Iraq. The Center started with five computers on which our staff of doctors and students trained and accessed scientific, research and educational resources.
WiRED started us out with more than one hundred CDs that provided a rich information resource covering many medical specialties. And, now that our hospital has Internet access, the e-library offers on-line facilities that provide connections for our staff to many excellent medical Websites.
In May 2004, all the computers were linked to the Internet which expanded considerably the information available for our medical staff. With the availability of this new resource, the number of staff visits to the library has increased dramatically, so much so, that we have had to expand the library opening times from six hours per day to 13 hours just to allow everyone the opportunity to use these information facilities.
Physicians at work on
the new workstations
The Medical Information Center continues to improve and develop it facilities. We have added two additional computers just for access to the expanded number of CDs. The collection, drawing from all available sources, has increased in number to more than 300. This expanded collection includes contributions from San Francisco State University, which in collaboration with WiRED, has provided a basic, nurses' training program and nurses' reference collection.
Wired International continues to support the Center, and with the support of Professor Gary Selnow, the hospital has been successfully registered on HINARI (Health Inter-Network Access to Research Initiative) supported in part by the World Health Organization and the United Nations. HINARI provides access to more than 2400 medical journals through which staff can locate and read current articles in every medical specialty. This resource, free for the first three months, has enabled the Center to expand it services in Basrah, while other Medical Information Centers in Iraq are also accessing this resource.
The Basrah Teaching Hospital Medical Information Center is recognized as the first in Southern Iraq to provide up to date medical information for all our professional staff and medical students.
Note from Gary Selnow, Ph.D.
Dr. Khalid is a neurosurgeon and director of the AL Sadar Teaching Hospital in Basrah. His keen sense for the central role of information in medical education is evident in his avid support for the Medical Information Center and for other information programs he champions at his hospital.
One example, Dr. Khalid has promoted an active Website for the hospital, through which he intends to launch an on-line medical journal for Iraqi physicians and researchers. The experiences of Iraq's medical community with trauma and endemic illnesses can yield rich contributions to global medicine.
Decades of isolation and poor external communication, even now, have made it difficult for Iraqis to publish scientific papers in established biomedical journals. The on-line journal organized at the AL Sadar Teaching Hospital will be a critical first-step in disseminating medical papers from Iraq. WiRED will support Dr. Khalid and his colleagues in any way we can to advance this project. Our Website will report developments.
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