Basrah Hospital to Specialize in Children’s Cancer Care
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 2, 2007 A new children’s hospital being built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Basrah, Iraq, is the result of a partnership between the Iraqi Ministry of Health and U.S. governmental and non-governmental agencies, senior U.S. officials said in Baghdad. (Video)
Construction of the 94-bed hospital, which will specialize in children’s cancer research and treatment, is scheduled for completion next year, Army Col. Paul Babin, director of the Corp’s Gulf Region Division, said at a June 30 news conference. The hospital is slated to open in early 2009.
Ground was broken for the facility in 2005. It is being built in Basrah principally because children under age 5 in southern Iraq suffer a high mortality rate from cancer, Babin said.
Project HOPE President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Howe visited Iraq in 2003 to assess healthcare needs there at the request of first lady Laura Bush. Plans to build the new hospital were announced in 2004. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Iraqi Ministry of Health signed memorandums of agreement supporting the project.
The modern hospital will feature state-of-the-art cancer research equipment and “will help the entire country of Iraq,” Babin said.
The United States is contributing about $95 million toward the $157 million overall cost needed to build the Basrah facility and to make it fully operational, according to Corps of Engineers officials.
The new Basrah hospital is among more than 140 Corps of Engineers medical construction projects, Babin said. About $200 million in Corps’ medical construction projects in Iraq are being worked, he said, noting $800 million in projects already are complete.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health has overseen construction of more than 39 new hospitals and clinics, Army Maj. Anthony Marici, the U.S. Embassy’s medical attache, said. Another 150 hospitals and clinics have been refurbished, he said.
The Health Ministry’s 100-page health care plan for Iraq includes transportation, security, staffing and equipment needs and “is remarkably well-written and has been executed without flaw,” Marici said.
Iraq’s health care plans also see to staffing the country’s medical and nursing schools, Marici noted. In addition, Iraqi medical authorities have implemented a nationwide program to inoculate young people against measles, mumps and rubella.
“They were able to inoculate 3 and a half million Iraqi children in a 14-day period,” Marici said, calling this an “unprecedented” accomplishment.