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6th Civil Affairs Group organized delivery of $500,000 in medical supplies

29 Oct 2005 | Cpl. Jeremy Gadrow

Amid wailing babies and distressed mothers, a light of hope beamed into the Ar Ramadi Women’s and Children’s Hospital Tuesday.

The Marines of 2nd Marine Division’s 6th Civil Affairs Group organized the delivery of approximately $500,000 in medical supplies to the hospital. These provided the residents of Ramadi additional medical equipment and medication, thereby enhancing the level of medical care in the city.  Getting the supplies to the facilities in Al Anbar Province is difficult for non-governmental organizations.

The Iraqi medical institutions are in poor condition, said Navy Capt. Thomas Risser, health services officer, 6th CAG. “All medical consumables in Iraq are in rather short supply…these (donated) supplies will be put to good use immediately.”

Approximately 100 different types of medications were donated from numerous hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, according to Cpl. Robert Shuman, health and welfare representative for 6th CAG’s Team 4, Detachment 2. “Everything from antibiotics to antidepressants were donated to the people of Iraq,” he said.

The director of the hospital was on hand to receive the supplies.

“We are very grateful to the Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces,” said the director. “These supplies take a big burden off the Ministry of Health.”

The Ministry of Health is not the only group relieved by the new medications. Medications procured at hospitals and clinics are free, according to the director, but due to a short supply, they can only afford to provide three days worth of medication.

According to the hospital director this is often not enough. Many patients are left with no choice but to purchase the medication they need from private pharmacies and markets – a very expensive practice in Iraq.

The Marines weren’t working alone.  The operation was coordinated with members of the Iraqi Army (IA), who were at the hospital to deliver the supplies. The Iraqi Army actually dropped off the supplies to the hospital  “We don’t want (the Iraqi population) to feel dependent on us,” said Risser.

“The mission was a complete success,” said an IA officer in charge of the actual unloading of supplies. “We could not have done it without the aide of everyone involved. We are grateful for the opportunity to support our nation.”

This support is advantageous in a number of ways, said Risser. “The medical community will probably know, deep down, that the donation was from the U.S., and hopefully this will cause them to think favorably of us, and help convince them that our goal is their prosperity.”

This particular hospital was chosen to receive the donation for a number of reasons, said Maj. Daniel Wagner, Team Four commander.

“(The hospital) was chosen because we believe that it offers the best opportunity to benefit Iraq, it is easily accessible and fairly well known ,” said Wagner. “It is also a good place to reach a large number of people during critical moments in their life. What better time to start helping the people of Iraq than at birth?”

Risser agrees with Wagner saying that, “if a Government can successfully enhance the quality of life of the civilian population, their confidence in their government will be enhanced, diminishing support of the insurgency.”

Editor’s Note: The names of Iraqi officials have been omitted for the safety and security of them and their families.