Physicians and medical students use computers following the dedication of the Medical Information Center at the Medical City Center in Iraq.
On Tuesday, June 24, 2003, WiRED International launched the first of several Medical Information Centers at a ceremony held in Iraq's largest teaching hospital. This 10-station computer network and e-library of medical topics will provide more than 1,000 doctors and medical students with information about the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.
The medical community in Iraq has been isolated for many years and this Center will introduce physicians and other healthcare professionals to the many developments that have evolved in western medicine this period.
"WiRED is a vital humanitarian organization ideally suited with the experience, technological and programmatic skills needed to carry out this work. WiRED was one of the first organizations to assist with information programs in Croatia and Kosovo after the end of hostilities there, and is a brilliant choice to work with the Global Technology Corps of the U.S. Department of State to support the rebuilding of the medical community in Iraq," stated U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on International Relations.
The ceremony included speeches by leaders of Iraq's medical community who described how important this Center would become in the practice and teaching of medicine. Dr. Gary W. Selnow, Executive Director of WiRED and professor of communication in the College of Business at San Francisco State University, spoke about the capacity of computers to serve human needs and discussed how the information that is ultimately exchanged between Iraqi physicians and physicians elsewhere would benefit medical professionals and the people they serve. Mr. James K. Haveman, Jr., Senior U.S. Advisor to the Ministry of Health, noted the importance of the contributions of WiRED and the U.S. Global Technology Corps - a program offering of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs, Office of Technology Partnerships, to the improvement of information for Iraq's medical community.
Approximately 75 physicians and medical students attended the ceremony that was interrupted by a major power failure plaguing Baghdad and the surrounding region at the time of the event. Auxiliary generators that provide supplemental power during daily electricity failures provided emergency lighting, but not power for the computers. Such an inconvenience that might have been a problem elsewhere was accepted as part of daily life in Baghdad. The computer demonstrations continued on battery power as long as possible and the ribbon-cutting ended in ever dimming light as the computers were powered down and guests returned to the streets of Baghdad or to the bedside of patients at Medical City Center.
Additional Medical Information Centers are being installed in Baghdad at the Al Kadhymia Teaching Hospital, the Al Yarmouk Teaching Hospital, and the Spinal Cord Center.
WiRED International, a San Francisco-based organization which often collaborates with San Francisco State University's Marian Wright Edelman Institute, the U.S. State Department-sponsored Global Technology Corps and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, now operates Centers in the Balkans, Africa and Latin America. The Centers annually provide health care information to more than a million individuals.
"Gary Selnow has already shown that he and WiRED can change lives in the most impoverished or damaged nations through the elegantly simple model of his Medical Information Centers. He has taken on a huge challenge in Iraq but his record of success in other difficult locations and his intense dedication to this humanitarian work—despite its dangers—virtually ensure tremendous gains for Iraqi health care. His work is a stellar example of community service, a longstanding emphasis at San Francisco State University. In Prof. Selnow's case, the community in which he works is half a world away," said President Robert A. Corrigan, San Francisco State University.
Gary Selnow's dedication speech of WiRED's Medical Information Center at the Medical City Center, University of Baghdad.
Layout by Brian Colombe.
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