Thursday, April 20, 2006

Planning future shipments

At this point I am hoping to be able to send a series of monthly shipments. The next one should be sent May first, 2006.

From what I can tell the hospital's supply situation is pretty dire. The hospital requested 89 different drugs from Kimadia for the year, indicating the estimated amount needed for the year. Only partial fills on about 7 of the requested drugs have been delivered by Kimadia as of April 15th, over a quarter of the way into the year. That means the vast majority of the drugs needed to treat patients' cancer are not available at the hospital.

I have tried to take a positive view on Kimadia's performance. Surely, they delivered SOME of what was ordered in 2005, and they have delivered SOME of what is needed this year. For what they have delivered they deserve praise, because these are difficult times in Iraq and even simple utilities like water and electricity are not being delivered reliably by the agencies responsible for doing so.

However, while praise is due Kimadia for the few supplies it has delivered, people in Mosul are suffering from severe, near-total shortages at the hospital of chemotherapy drugs needed to fight cancer. The hospital is the primary lifeline for these people, particularly the poor. Patients who are wealthy may be able to seek treatment elsewhere or obtain the needed drugs through private pharmacies, but otherwise folks depend totally on the system that should be providing health care to all Iraqis. That system is suffering from severe shortages. Kimadia is the agency that should be delivering the drugs. Whatever the reasons, it is not doing that job well at this time.

Lest people think I blame only Kimadia for the problem, let me be clear.

The health system of Iraq was supposedly one of the first things considered when the US invaded Iraq. The supply problems of the health system have been well publicized. Various agencies and organizations have claimed credit for helping that health system. Yet, shortages persist and are even worsening in the current time period.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another shipment complete

I got word from the hospital in Mosul that the latest shipment of chemotherapy drugs reached them today. The drugs reached Mosul airport OK late last week, with the icepacks still cold, and were held there in a refrigerator until they could be picked up this week.

This shipment included 50 2mg vials of vincristine and 17 100mg vials of doxorubicin shipped from Minnesota and 50 200mg vials of cyclophosphamide shipped from Germany. Roughly 100 email messages were involved in arranging and coordinating the shipment, and people around the world watched out for it, passed it from hand to hand, carried it a little faster and protected it a little better than other packages, knowing it might save some lives in a place that's seen too much violence and chaos in recent years.

The message from the hospital says "This shipment of chemotherapy drugs will be of tremendous help to our cancer patients at this time of great shortages."