Sunday, October 09, 2005

Chemotherapy drugs for Mosul

I think I need to use this blog more actively to report the status and progress of the project I've been working on to get chemotherapy drugs to the Mosul Oncology and Nuclear Medicine Hospital. I have never been much of a journal writer and in my lifetime I have never successfully kept a daily diary, but blogging is a bit different in that there is no requirement for daily entries and a blog can serve as a channel for communication with the world.

I'll just include a brief summary in this first post on the topic.

Iraq is in turmoil, Mosul is in turmoil and this turmoil is affecting the medical system. As I understand it, the Mosul oncology and Nuclear Medicine Hospital is an Iraqi government hospital which provides care for cancer patients in the Mosul area.

Like all Iraqi government hospitals, it depends on an Iraqi government agency called Kimadia to provide it with drugs and supplies, including the chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer patients. Kimadia has failed to provide everything the hospital needs, although it has managed to at least partially fill some of the hospital's requisitions. The result is that the hospital does not have everything it needs to treat cancer patients.

Some time back I took it upon myself to try to help the hospital get the chemotherapy drugs it needs. A Mosul blogger called "Truth Teller" put me in touch with a contact at the hospital, and that contact provided me with a list of what the hospital had requisitioned and what had been received, and with a prioritized list of what was most urgently needed.

Armed with this "shopping list" I proceeded to try to figure out how to obtain what was needed and what it would cost. Common sense told me from the beginning that I could not possibly hope to completely fill the hospital's needs by myself. However, I felt that if I could find a way to get the hospital at least part of what it needed, the things I learned in doing so would help others do the same.

Over a period of months I have managed to work out methods of ordering the drugs that are needed and arranging their delivery to the hospital. One order has reached the hospital, and another is currently in transit.

Some of the details of this effort must remain confidential because of the turmoil in Iraq - to reveal someone's identity could brand him or her as a "collaborator" in the eyes of some people and place that person in danger. I will try to discuss what I can of the problems I encountered and the solutions I found in future posts.

For the moment, let me simply say that chemotherapy drugs are not cheap. What I have been able to send has helped some people, but is only a tiny part of what the hospital needs. At this point I am forced more and more to the conclusion that I must work to enlist the help of others in this project.


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