RAMADI, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2008) --
Officials at al Anbar University held a ceremony commemorating the addition of its medical college during a ceremony in Ramadi, Iraq, Nov. 13.
During heavy fighting, many of Iraq’s physicians fled to neighboring countries in hopes of finding better business opportunities. Ramadi officials and Coalition forces are hoping the opening the medical college fills the void that was left.
“Iraq’s healthcare system is suffering from a severe shortage of physicians, as many physicians fled to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan during the war,” said 1st Lt. Emily Grant, the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team Ramadi LNO. “This re-opening will not solve the current lack of physicians but it will help to increase the number of physicians down the line.”
The college is a six year institution, with students entering medical school immediately following high school. Upon graduation, students receive their doctorate in medicine.
“Education is always important and if we can help the people become educated, it will lead to a better life for them and Ramadi,” said 1st Lt. David Gilliland, officer-in-charge of Civil Affairs Group, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1.
Officials are also hoping the college brings Ramadi one step closer to breaking away from the Iraqi insurgency.
“The teachers will give experience to the younger generations of Iraqis and they aren’t scared to anymore,” said Dr. Khalil Ibrahim Abudiyabi, president of the university. “When terrorism first came into the region, their first target was al Anbar University. They don’t want educated people, they want ignorant people and attacking the university helped that. Now, we are educating the students against terrorism so that they know that it is not what we want here.”
The completion of the medical college and other projects in Ramadi have assisted in strengthening the relationship between Coalition forces and Iraqi citizens.
“We want Ramadi to have a better picture for the future and opening institutions like this one is essential,” said Karieem Arak, the chief of the North Provincial Council. “Ramadi has been changed a lot by Coalition forces and we want them to keep going and help us make Ramadi more beautiful. We are very happy with the relationship between the city of Ramadi and Coalition forces. We want to thank them for their continued help and support.”