June 24, 2003
WiRED International uses information technology to provide Iraq's healthcare community with the latest developments in human medicine. This non-profit organization will develop Medical Information Centers in the largest medical schools and teaching hospitals in Baghdad. The first Center was dedicated on June 24 at the Medical City Center of the University of Baghdad. "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 Centers, consisting of six or more networked computers, will offer comprehensive medical e-libraries on CD-ROMs compiled from universities, government sources, pharmaceutical companies and non-governmental organizations. The core database has been tested in Central Europe and Africa under grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health; regional enhancements will be appended to meet the specific needs of the medical community in Iraq. CDs will quick-start the medical education process, and in time the Centers will add Internet access when the appropriate infrastructure is locally available.
"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.
WiRED is working with the Ministry of Health in Iraq and the U.S. Global Technology Corps, a program of the U.S. Department of State, to develop the initial phase of this rapid-start, two-stage project. This portion of the work is funded by the U.S. Global Technology Corps, and will provide a test in three Baghdad-area hospitals. Two of the hospitals are teaching facilities.
During the past several decades, professionals staffing the Iraqi health care system and medical students at all levels of study have been denied unfettered access to information about health care developments widely available in open societies. Internet connections don't currently exist and libraries are either hopelessly out of date or they have been sacked during recent unrests. "These first-of-a-kind Centers will give Iraqi physicians the information they need to catch up with medical developments after more than a decade of isolation," noted Dr. Gary Selnow, Executive Director of WiRED and professor of communication in the College of Business at San Francisco State University.
In addition to the infusion of information that will contribute to a rapid improvement of health care in Iraq, this project will demonstrate the generosity and good will of Americans and offer a tangible display of our abiding concern for the Iraqi people.
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.
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