Iraqi clinic gets help.

Tags: HB News

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – After decades of tyrannical rule followed by a seven-year war, some of Iraq’s cities have fallen into disrepair.  Clinics, schools, hospitals, factories, homes – none of these were immune from the effects of the last three decades.  For some of the smaller villages, the effects were harder felt, as they depend on a single clinic or school to serve hundreds of families.  This is the case with al Naml, a clinic about 35 kilometers north of Baji.  It is the sole clinic for 300 families and was built in the 1980’s.  Since that time, the building has deteriorated to nothing but a collection of gray brick walls, broken windows and a single sink in the corner of a room.

The Government of Iraq recently took notice of the condition of the clinic and the need for renovation.  Major General Hammed, the head of Salah ad-Din province’s Police, noted the poor condition of his home village’s clinic and the desire to have it brought up to standard.  His lamentations fell on the ears of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which sometimes operates in the village.  They, in turn, informed the Provincial Reconstruction Team stationed on Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit, Iraq, that they wanted to help the village by donating supplies to the clinic.

The PRT’s sole purpose is to interact with the GoI, acting as a check and balance.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers often receives requests for assistance from towns and villages like al Naml.  Before they offer their assistance by donating supplies, they check with the PRT to make sure the GoI is not scheduled to deliver the same supplies.  In some cases, the PRT discovered the GoI had already delivered supplies, but villagers wanted more.

By checking with the Iraqi government before acting on their own, the U.S. military and PRT are helping to legitimize the GoI.

“It’s their government and their land,” said Katherine Dennison, the senior public health advisor with the PRT.  “They need to do the planning, budgeting and coordinating.  They need to legitimize the process.”

The PRT consists of five sections: public diplomacy, health, governance, economics and the rule of law.  Each of these sections has a senior advisor who has connections to their counterparts in the GoI.  In this case, Dennison has a relationship with the Iraqi director general of health.  Dennison inquired about the clinic and discovered the GoI was already planning a renovation, but the clinic was in need of medical supplies.  The GoI funds these types of projects, but the U.S. Army does offer goodwill gifts when it can.

“We just bring them things they can use,” said Major Russell Smith, civil liaison team leader, 358th Civil Affairs Brigade, out of Riverside, Calif.

.  “Everything is built with provincial money and labor.  The PRT brought attention to the clinic.”

A mission was planned to visit the village of al Naml and to drop off medical and school supplies.  When the PRT, escorted by USACE, arrived, July 29, they found that the Iraqi-funded renovation project had already begun, and had shown tremendous progress, according to Sgt. Rick G. Ampil, the civil liaison team noncommissioned officer, 358th CA Bde.  The walls were painted and they were also preparing the electrical wiring and the plumbing connections, Sgt. Ampil said.  Officials believe the project will be completed in the next 20 days.

In addition to the medical supplies for this clinic, the USACE will also donate a generator.  The village currently averages only three hours of electricity a day, but the generator will be a dedicated power source to the clinic and neighboring school.

Once the generator is delivered, the Iraqis will assume operation and maintenance of the equipment.  In its effort to provide sustainable assistance, the PRT ensures the Iraqis are able to maintain the equipment they receive.  In the past, the PRT has conducted demonstrations and training, ensuring Iraqis know exactly how to operate and maintain equipment.  These precautionary measures guarantee the equipment donated to the Iraqis does not fall into disrepair and that all the planning and work to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens is a worthwhile and long-lasting investment.

For now, though, the citizens of al Naml will have access to medical care in a sterile building, with more suppli