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Professor brings technology to Iraqi medical community

June 24, 2003

Photo of Gary SelnowBusiness professor Gary Selnow and the non-profit organization that he founded, WiRED International, dedicated a new Medical Information Center in the largest medical school and teaching hospital in Baghdad on June 24.

The Medical City Center at the University of Baghdad supplies doctors and researchers with information technology that in turn provides the Iraqi people with the latest developments in human medicine. The center, consisting of at least six networked computers, offers comprehensive medical electronic libraries on CD-ROMs compiled from universities, government sources, pharmaceutical companies and non-governmental organizations. In time the center will add Internet access when the appropriate infrastructure is locally available.

"These first-of-a-kind centers will give Iraqi physicians the information they need to catch up with medical developments after more than a decade of isolation," said Selnow, who teaches communication courses in the University's College of Business.

WiRED is working with the Ministry of Health in Iraq and the U.S. Global Technology Corps, a program of the U.S. State Department, to develop the initial phase of this project. In total, there will be three centers opened in Baghdad-area hospitals by the end of June. Two of the hospitals are teaching facilities.

During the past several decades, medical students and professionals staffing the Iraqi health care system have been denied unfettered access to information about health care developments widely available in open societies. Internet connections don't currently exist and libraries are either out-of-date or have been ransacked during recent unrests.

In addition, this project demonstrates the generosity and good will of Americans and offers a tangible display of the abiding concern for the Iraqi people, added Selnow, executive director of WiRED.

"Gary Selnow has already shown that he and WiRED can change lives in the most impoverished or damaged nations through the elegantly simple model of his Medical Information Centers. He has taken on a huge challenge in Iraq but his record of success in other difficult locations and his intense dedication to this humanitarian work -- despite its dangers -- virtually ensures tremendous gains for Iraqi health care,” said SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan. "His work is a stellar example of community service, a longstanding emphasis at San Francisco State University. In Prof. Selnow's case, the community in which he works is half a world away."

WiRED International, a San Francisco-based organization that often collaborates with SFSU's Marian Wright Edelman Institute, the U.S. Global Technology Corps and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, also operates centers in the Balkans, Africa and Latin America. The centers annually provide health care information to more than a million individuals.

Read Selnow's reports from Iraq.

-- Christina Holmes


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Last modified June 24, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs