November 14, 2003

Group pushes for treatment of Iraqi children at VCH

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Dr. Thomas A. Hazinski

Group pushes for treatment of Iraqi children at VCH

The Kurdish Human Rights Watch of Nashville is asking the provisional government in Iraq to send its urgently ill children to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. This week, representatives from the Kurdish Human Rights Watch carried a request for $15 million for the effort to the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-run government in Iraq.

The request is part of the approved $150 million relief fund recently signed by President Bush. Senator Bill Frist included language in that bill to encourage the provisional government to spend part of its funds for the urgent medical care of children at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Kurdish Human Rights Watch would arrange for the transport and social needs of the children and families while Vanderbilt Children’s would provide medical care and remote diagnoses through six telemedicine sites within Iraq.

Jim Shmerling, CEO of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, says the experience of treating a Kurdish infant for a severe form of spina bifida this past summer was a positive experience and Vanderbilt Children’s is excited about the possibility of helping more children from Iraq.

“The future health of Iraq is dependent on the health and well-being of their children today. Vanderbilt Children’s can contribute to our country’s assistance in Iraq by providing our own local expertise to the effort,” said Shmerling.

The only children’s hospital in the war-torn country has been looted and many doctors have left the country. The need for care for the children of Iraq is said to be critical.