New project aims to improve health of children in Iraq

Northwest Medical Teams announced today it has begun training local health workers in northern Iraq as part of a new $330,000 program to improve health and save lives of children in the region.
A community-based child health project will reach more than 3.6 million people living in northern Iraq, including 180,000 children under the age of five. Local health workers will learn how to teach Iraqi mothers about proper nursing, weaning and nutrition for their children. The project also addresses immunization and disease prevention as well as monitors the growth of children.

Northwest Medical Teams is one of only five U.S. agencies recently to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of State to support humanitarian work in northern Iraq. It was also one of the first to receive a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control to provide direct aid in Iraq. Gifts from other donors also support this project.

"We have worked with medical professionals in northern Iraq for a number of years," says Bas Vanderzalm, president of Northwest Medical Teams. "This new program will focus on helping mothers prevent disease and death among thousands of children in the area. Many lives will be saved because of this approach."

Northwest Medical Teams has been working in northern Iraq since 1991 when 19 medical volunteers were sent to care for the refugees during the Persian Gulf War. Despite the U.S. imposed sanctions in 1990, Northwest Medical Teams has continued to help support a staff of 24 Iraqi workers in Erbil. Under the leadership of a Costa Rican physician who has lived in Iraq since 1993, international medical volunteers and Iraqi staff conduct surgeries with local doctors, teach medical and dental procedures, and provide healthcare resources in the community.

To support the Iraq Relief Fund, call 1-800-959-4325, or mail gifts to Northwest Medical Teams, P.O. Box 10, Portland, OR 97207.