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December 27, 2003
Release Number: 03-12-65



BAGHDAD, Iraq - During the last 10 years, physicians in Iraq have struggled for updated medical information, said Maj. John E. Padgett, the officer in charge of the public health team with the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Abilene, Texas, who now edits the "Iraqi Journal of Medicine."

The 490th Civil Affairs Battalion supports Task Force 1st Armored Division.

"Iraqi physicians had no access to updated information," said Padgett. "Before the war, a politically-connected physician could travel to Europe and Asia for seminars and advanced training, but most others could not."

Padgett, who is an educator at Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, Calif., says physicians must continue their education by reading medical journals and attending seminars. While new diagnostic techniques, breakthrough medicines and technological advances keep the medical world turning physicians are obligated to keep up with the changes.

"Physicians have a responsibility to the patient to deliver the best care possible," said Padgett. "So they should be familiar with the newest diagnostics techniques, equipment and drug discoveries. If we didn't have continuing education, we'd still be bleeding patients instead of using antibiotics, cat scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging.)"

Medical journals are crucial to physicians, yet Padgett knows of no medical journals published within Iraq since the first Gulf War. This makes the "Iraqi Journal of Medicine" an especially valuable tool for medical practitioners.

The "Iraqi Journal of Medicine" is a compilation of recently published medical information from all over the world, reviewed and summarized by the Ministry of Health and then passed on to Padgett, who edits the material for language, relevancy and content. Padgett, who has published works in "Physicians Assistant Journal" and various magazines, also writes an editorial column for the Iraqi journal.

Padgett says an important function of the editorial process is reviewing work for relevancy. Because most Iraqi physicians are not yet equipped with the latest technology, Padgett must find articles that pertain to the Iraqi physicians.

"The physicians here don't have the equipment available in the western world," said Padgett. "So we have to take into consideration their limited resources and make value assessments."

Until now, the journal was a collection of gathered information from writers outside of Iraq. The next issue, however, will contain some articles written by Iraqis.

"We are striving for relevancy, and we're encouraging Iraqi physicians to solicit articles for the Iraqi Journal of Medicine." said Padgett. "Although we want to offer new information to the Iraqis and stimulate their thought processes, we also want to make the information relevant. The only people who can really do this are the Iraqis."


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