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RAMADI, Iraq (August 3, 2008) - Dr. Michael Carey, chief of neurosurgery at the Manhattan, N.Y. Veterans Affairs Hospital, washes his hands before performing brain surgery at Ramadi General Hospital July 30. The purpose of the surgery was to imply practical knowledge to a real-life situation with the guidance and assistance of an American neurosurgeon. “The intent was to show the Iraqi doctors different, more advanced ways in conducting a surgery,” Carey said. “They watched my every move and procedure from start to finish.” (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Jones) (RELEASED)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Jones

Inaugural medical conference held in Ramadi

3 Aug 2008 | Lance Cpl. Casey Jones

RAMADI, Iraq (August 3, 2008) - Approximately 100 doctors and medical personnel gathered for the 2008 al Anbar Medical Conference in Ramadi July 28-31.

The purpose of the conference was to discuss any concerns or reoccurring problems in the Iraqi medical community.

“We needed this conference to highlight the need for continued education in the health industry of Al Anbar,” said Air Force Col. Maryann Ante-Amburgey, the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT) 2-Ramadi social affairs leader.

The continued education lectures were delivered mostly by two American doctors, a neurosurgeon and a neurologist, throughout the four-day event.

“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with those doctors and lecture them on new information and practices,” said Dr. Patricia Kavanagh, a 58-year-old neurologist from Brooklyn, N.Y. “They have been to an extent cut off from the international medical community and they’re now starting to reestablish their relationships and medical knowledge. Their knowledge was pretty good considering what they’ve been up against.”

According to Derwent “Buck” Daniel, the Deputy Health Attaché for the U.S. State Department, the medical conference was the first ever in al Anbar.

The organizers were able to hold the conference now because of the increased security situation in Ramadi.

The Ramadi Iraqi Police provided security for the event, with several Marines from 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1,who served in an over-watch role for the maturing police force.

“Without security, they wouldn’t able to hold these types of conferences and meetings,” said Cpl. John Allen, a mortarman with 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who was part of the security squad for the event. “The Iraqi Police are continuing to protect their city. We were basically there to make sure the Iraqi Police were doing what they already know how to do. They did a great job.”

With the protection and security provided by the Iraqi Policemen and Marines, a small number of attendees were able to observe the successful removal of a brain tumor from an Iraqi female. The patient had been suffering from the tumor for more than 18 years.

The purpose of the surgery was to apply practical knowledge to a real-life situation with the guidance and assistance of an American neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Carey, chief of neurosurgery at the Manhattan, N.Y., Veterans Affairs Hospital.

“The intent was to show the Iraqi doctors different, more advanced ways in conducting a surgery,” Carey said. “They watched my every move and procedure from start to finish.”

According to Daniel, one of the most vital needs in the Iraq health care system is more doctors and nurses.

“In Anbar province, there are two big areas of concern,” he said.  “One is infant mortality, which is a difficult problem to solve because of the lack of nurses to provide prenatal care.  The second is having enough medical care to support the population.”

“Hopefully, the conference will attract more doctors to the region and more women to the profession of nursing,” Daniel said.  “Part of the future for the health care of all Iraq is an increase in the number of female nurses within the profession.”.

The month of July was nicknamed “Conference Month” by the ePRT members. The ePRT recently concluded a Youth Conference and a Women’s Conference here, with a goal of empowering the young adults and females of Ramadi.

The ePRTs mission is to support local governments in building their ability to govern more efficiently and distribute necessary services.