Iraqi MDs Learn Emergency Infant Care Techniques at 2nd ACR Course

By Sgt. Dan Purcell and Pfc. Erik Ledrew, 122nd MPAD

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CENTCOM) — The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment’s Camp Dragoon aid station took on the role of a teaching hospital when six local doctors completed a neonatal resuscitation course March 20.

Lt. Col. Kelly A. Murray, regimental surgeon and course program director, teamed with Maj. Linda G. Slayton for the daylong class which taught their Iraqi colleagues emergency resuscitation techniques for newborn infants.

This class was a follow up on techniques learned during recent Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics classes conducted previously, said Murray. The Neonatal Resuscitation Program, affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics, is funded by grants from the Iraqi Family Physician Society and the 2nd ACR.

In June, 2003, Dr. Hassan Hadi Baker, president of the newly formed Iraqi Family Physician Society, expressed an interest in exchanging medical techniques, said Murray.

“The goal of the obstetrics course and the neo-natal resuscitation course is to support the Iraqi Ministry of Health’s plan to decrease the neonatal mortality rate by 50 percent throughout Iraq by 2005,” Murray said.

Estimates show Iraq’s neo-natal mortality rate at 10.8 percent, or 108 deaths for every 1,000 children born, said Murray.

“By combining the obstetrics course with the neo-natal course,” said Murray, “we can conceivably reduce the mortality rate by 80 percent.”

The other Iraqi physicians taking the course were Drs. Maysoon M. Jabir, Nada Flerh Hassar, Ban Hafydh, Tareef Fadhil and Hussein Fadhil Al Jawadi.

“The doctors here are very well trained,” Murray said “Some of the older doctors were trained abroad at a time when they were still allowed to do so.”

Hassan has worked tirelessly over the last year to improve health care facilities throughout Iraq, Murray said.

“He is one of the best managers I have ever known,” she said. “He has one of the most successfully run hospitals in Baghdad.”

“At the time I met Lt. Col. Murray, everything was in ruins and she helped us with everything — from supplies to training,” said Hassan. “She has been a great help.”

After their first meeting, Murray and Hassan have been exchanging ideas and working together weekly for the past year, he said.

“When we got here, a lot of the hospitals just weren’t functioning,” said Murray. “The latest chapter in trying to help is medical education.”

To ensure that these courses continue after the regiment returns to its home station at Fort Polk, La., Murray gave the course materials to the Iraqi Family Physician Society and has been corresponding with the incoming 1st Cavalry Division Surgeon about the program.

“When I return to the United States, I’m going to continue to maintain correspondence with the Iraqi Family Physician Society to facilitate the continuity of the program,” she said.

“Most (Iraqi doctors) are already knowledgeable in the material we’re covering,” said Murray. The course is structured so that the doctors participating in the 2nd ACR program can teach what they have learned to nurses and doctors-in-training working in hospitals and clinics. The techniques can also be passed onto midwives and traditional birth attendants who deliver the majority of babies outside the hospital.

“Our hope is that they can function more as a team when reacting to emergencies both during and after deliveries,” said Murray.