In mid-March, 2004, as part of its effort to provide all medical schools and key hospitals in Iraq with the latest medical information, WiRED International outfitted six medical schools and teaching hospitals with its computer-based Medical Information Centers. The six new facilities augment the four Medical Information Centers put in place last year just after the war in Iraq was declared over.
The ten Centers located in Baghdad, Basra and Kufae now serve more than 5,500 Iraqi physicians, students and medical faculty with information they could not otherwise access. Medical textbooks and reference sources were woefully out-of-date before the war, but even most of these old volumes were looted from hospitals in the post-war unrest. It is common for medical training today in Iraq to rely on out-of-date information, without the benefit of knowledge about scientific advances that have occurred since Saddam Hussein led the country to isolation in the mid-1980s.
The absence of information is pervasive, and rebuilding libraries with print-based texts, journals and other research material would be all but impossible. WiRED International has stepped in with computer-based sources that involve the installation of four to 10 computers and a complete CD-Rom library designed to provide a quick infusion of medical updates. As the Internet becomes available throughout Iraq, the Centers, configured for Internet access, will convert instantly to Internet-based facilities. WiRED will then provide access to special on-line sources that supply the latest and most comprehensive array of medical information.
The four original test Centers demonstrated convincingly the great utility and popularity of the computer-based approach, and propelled WiRED and its supporters to roll-out the concept across the country. The current plan is to provide a total of 25 Centers through which nearly every doctor, medical professor and student in Iraq will have access to current medical information. The six recent additions are:
- Teaching Hospitals: Basra, Al Kindy, Al Nufees, Al Kufa
- Specialty Teaching Hospitals: Al Mansour Pediatric Center, Al Bitar
This project is generously funded by The Medtronic Foundation, Pfizer Inc., Affinity Internet, The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, and many small donors who have contributed so generously to this effort. The original Centers were funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs and Education and Cultural Affairs. The Bureau of International Information Programs has also contributed to the current expansion effort.
WiRED is collaborating on this effort with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.
WiRED works in cooperation with the Marian Wright Edelman Institute at San Francisco State University.
Layout by Brian Colombe.
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