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Iraq launches efforts to rebuild battered health system
www.chinaview.cn 2005-03-04 19:15:10

    by Jamal Hashim

   BAGHDAD, March 4 (Xinhuanet) -- Sledgehammering a wall of a deserted building inside a US-protected area in Baghdad, Iraqi constructors joined their other compatriots to take another step forward to rebuild the war-ravaged country.

   On the site of the old building, which used to be a center for training special bodyguards for the toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, it would erect an academy that would train professional medical personnel for the country's postwar health system.

   The US-funded program, with costs exceeding 4 million US dollars, was part of an effort to train human resources for the Health Ministry, acting minister Muhammed Ali al-Hakim said.

   "One of the major priorities for the ministry is training and capacity building of doctors and medical employees," Hakim said at a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday inside the Green Zone, which houses the interim Iraqi government and the US embassy.

   US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte delivered a speech in the ceremony, but his voices was soon muffled by the noise of machines used to demolish the building.

   The facility is expected to be complete in October, when students will probably still have to pass numerous US-manned
checkpoints before they reach the campus.

   "Things will change and the students will have an agreeable situation," an Iraqi official assured reporters, who were shown around the construction site in the center of the zone.

   Iraqi officials considered the program as a major step in rebuilding the health system after decades of negligence.   
Clinical technology development in Iraq has been stagnant in the past years due to destructive wars and international sanctions.

   The academy will serve as home to non-degree producing programs in management, leadership, clinical skills and continuing education, the officials said.

   "The first task, which will be implemented within the next few months by the academy, includes training a staff of 150 in the new health care center," said Hakim.

   In the first year, it will hold a training program for the staff, while it is expected to become a public health school that will serve as a model for the Middle East in the future, the official added.

   To the reporters' surprise, Negroponte joined the construction team in carrying bricks and adding them with mortar to a replica wall.

   "Today we witness another sign of growing of a democratic Iraq, a country where people are once again free to pursue their interests and claim their places in the community of civilized nations," said Negroponte.

   "Iraqi doctors, nurses and administrators will teach here and students will learn here ... It will make the provision of health care in Iraq more efficient and more responsive," the US official added.  Enditem

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