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First Children's Clinic North of Mosul Opens in Iraq

By Pfc. Chris Jones, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

SINJAR, Iraq, Oct. 27, 2003 – More than 100 parents and sick children waited outside the Sinjar General Hospital here Oct. 23, anxiously awaiting the opening of the first children's clinic north of Mosul.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
An Iraqi mother comforts her sick child at the Sinjar General Hospital, which held a grand opening Oct. 23 for the first clinic north of Mosul responsible solely for children. Photo by Pfc. Chris Jones, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Medics from 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) oversaw construction efforts by local contractors of the Sinjar Clinic for Children. The facility, which falls under the hospital's supervision, became the first exclusively pediatric health care center in the 187th's area of operations with its grand opening ceremony Oct. 23. The only other children's clinic in northern Iraq is in Mosul, said Capt. Eli Lozano, brigade combat health support officer.

"This is the primary reason the Americans and coalition forces came to Iraq," said Lt. Col. Henry Arnold, 2nd Battalion commander. "One of the main reasons we came was to ensure that everyone in the country has good medical care."

The Sinjar hospital already had a staff of pediatricians and a children's ward, but the new clinic offers an atmosphere more suitable for children, said Dr. Yousif Akajoj, hospital internist. From toys and games to the upbeat pediatricians, the clinic will focus on offering a positive haven for children, he said.

One big problem at the hospital was the lack of beds for children, Akajoj said.

"We have shortages of beds, so we have an obligation to discharge children as soon as they are well," he said. "The lack of space was always our main problem. Sometimes, when we have a lot of children needing care, we have to discharge the ones who are less sick than others, even if they aren't fully healed.

"We needed this new clinic," he continued. "It will very much help keep children feeling well, so they can do what they need to -- go to school."

(Army Pfc. Chris Jones is assigned to the 40th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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