News: U.S. Army Surgeon Initiates Iraqi Army Medical Conference
Story and Photos by Sgt. 1st Class David P. Benamati
138th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
AL KISIK, Iraq (Jan. 27, 2006) - - With one practicing Iraqi Army doctor in the Ninewa province to treat approximately 6,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers, and only a few medical facilities from which to operate, medical care for IA Soldiers is suffering.
U.S. Army Capt. Jay B. Baker, surgeon, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Sykes, recognized an urgent need for medical support if the Iraqi Army is going to be a successful and thriving army.
The lack of medical doctors in the Iraqi army is because terrorists routinely threaten them and their families. The terrorists have even killed a few doctors who have helped Iraqi Army Soldiers.
Another issue is pay. "Doctors who work for the Ministry of Health get a salary, but they [can] also have a private clinic, making ten times as much in their private clinic as they do at the Ministry of Health," said Capt. Baker. "However, if doctors work for the Ministry of Defense [become Iraqi Army doctors] they won't be allowed by law to have a private clinic.
Brig. Gen. Samir Hassan, the newly appointed Iraqi Army Surgeon-General, and Capt. Baker, working together, invited doctors from the Ninewa region to participate in a medical conference to discuss the Iraqi Army medical situation in Iraq.
Six Iraqi civilian doctors attended the conference. The conference's main speaker was Dr. Abdul Salam, who is also serving as a second lieutenant in the Iraqi Army. Dr. Salam addressed the shortages of IA doctors and proposed the formation of the Western Ninewa Doctor's Association.
Before lunch, conference attendees and Brig. Gen. Hassan visited the newly constructed IA medical clinic in Al Kisik, which has no full-time staff.
After lunch, there was a group discussion about how to incorporate Ministry of Health policies and the needs of the Iraqi Army.
In the end, they all decided to meet the following month to continue their dialogue. They are planning to meet in Tal Afar, where other doctors who were unable attend could take part in the process.