Iraq

Staff, volunteers approved to enter Iraq

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A new government regulation has cleared the way for Northwest Medical Teams to send U.S. staff and medical volunteers to areas of Iraq not controlled by the Iraqi government. The approval by the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) now allows Northwest Medical Teams to travel to northern Iraq where the relief organization has 24 international workers and clinics.
"This is a major step in helping us transition to an emergency medical response, if necessary," says Bas Vanderzalm, president of Northwest Medical Teams. "This approval means we can better assess the possible need for medical supplies and healthcare providers in the event of conflict as well as assess our current work in the country."

Jackie Gust, a nurse from Portland, Ore., Dr. Michael Pendleton, a physician from Hood River, Ore., and Dr. Catlin Goss, a physician from Seattle, will serve on Northwest Medical Teams' first volunteer team to Iraq.

Northwest Medical Teams is one of only five U.S. agencies recently to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of State for on-going work in northern Iraq, and one of a handful of groups currently working in the country. The OFAC approval was granted to relief organizations administering grant projects in Iraq funded by the U.S. government.

Security concerns last month prompted Northwest Medical Teams' staff to move their offices, including records, equipment and supplies, to an undisclosed rural location.