Hershey physicians assist in efforts to rebuild Iraqi medical infrastructure

March 18, 2004

HERSHEY, PA - Dr. Hamid Al-Mondhiry, Department of Medicine, and Dr. C. James Holliman, Department of Emergency Medicine, both in the College of Medicine at Hershey Medical Center, recently presented at the Iraqi Medical Specialty Forum, held in Baghdad, Iraq. As accomplished physicians, Al-Mondhiry and Holliman, along with others invited to the conference, were asked to advise and to aid in the reconstruction of the medical infrastructure in the war-torn country.

Al-Mondhiry will share his experience with the Department of Medicine at Hershey Medical Center at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 6.

The goals of the conference and associated meetings were to help reconstruct the specialty medical societies necessary to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq. The forum was the first international medical conference held in Iraq in more than 20 years. More than 700 Iraqi physicians registered, despite terrorist threats against the conference.

A native Iraqi, Al-Mondhiry has a special interest in Iraq's medical recovery efforts. "It's been more than 20 years since I have been to my homeland, Iraq," said Al-Mondhiry. "I was very eager to make the trip back, to try to help in the reconstruction of the health system which was devastated by two decades of wars, economic embargo and the terrorizing regime of Saddam Hussein."

Following the conference, Al-Mondhiry spent 10 days as a visiting professor at the Baghdad University College of Medicine and the Al-Mustansiryah University College of Medicine, Baghdad. He visited teaching hospitals where he made teaching rounds with students, staff and hematologists. Al-Mondhiry was involved in discussions with the dean of the Baghdad University College of Medicine regarding continued efforts to help in the reconstruction and upgrading of medical schools in Iraq.

"After spending two weeks visiting Baghdad and speaking to many different people, I left with a more optimistic view of what will come of my homeland," said Al-Mondhiry. "Despite the difficulties they are going through right now, including the unstable security situation and deficiencies in basic services, I am confident they will get through this. With Saddam Hussein in control, there was no hope. They now have hope. Where there is hope, there is opportunity for a better life."

Various American medical specialty organizations, such as the American Society of Hematology, have expressed genuine and sincere interest to help the reconstruction of the health system and teaching hospitals in Iraq. Plans are being discussed to facilitate visits by Iraqi medical school faculty for refreshing courses and updating in various disciplines in medicine at teaching institutions in the United States.

Holliman and the Department of Emergency Medicine have developed a series of training programs in pre-hospital and emergency medicine that will be implemented in other countries. The Center for International Emergency Medicine in Penn State's College of Medicine is a leader in international emergency medicine development. In addition, many international emergency medicine partners have traveled to Penn State to learn the art of emergency medicine through an international emergency medicine fellowship.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009