Thanks from Iraq
I am a final-year resident in pathology at Al-Zahrawi Teaching Hospital in Mosul, Iraq. I read your article in The Scientist1 (sent to me electronically by one of your subscribers). I thought it was very kind of you to rally your readers and the scientific community all around the world to help us, your colleagues in Iraq! We have indeed suffered and for a long time, not only from the UN sanctions, but also (and arguably more) from the underinvestment in education and scientific research by the murderous regime of Saddam et al. The state of our educational facilities, including laboratories, is unfortunately pathetic. The policy of the former regime was to spread ignorance as much as possible, and, I am sorry to say, they succeeded. Iraqis were indeed once proud of having some of the best scientists in the Middle East, but the decline was rapid since Saddam and his gang had "other priorities" like war, war, and more war.
Now, with the help of coalition forces, Iraqis are waking up to the level of destruction left by the former regime, and they are adamant on rebuilding the country, starting with the pillars of all civilizations--science and education. There have been already many joint projects between the Iraqis and the US Army's 101st Airborne Division that is based in Mosul, to restore the colleges of Mosul to a prewar level and replace what was stolen by the looting craze that swept through the city and did not even spare these teaching institutions. This phase has been almost complete, and now we are looking toward getting the system into the 21st century. A lot of work has to be done, and it will be costly. The former regime has left the country in huge debts, and there are so many projects that have to be funded by the budget proposed by the interim ruling council. Scientific research will certainly have its share, but it won't be enough. We shall need your help ... and we will certainly appreciate it.
For the time being, our labs and scientific institutions would welcome anything you could send us. Please do not be shy to send a 10-year-old piece of equipment or a couple-of-years'-old journals, fearing that it would be of no use. We can use all the help that we get. The lab I work in (The histopathology lab at Al-Zahrawi Hospital) is in a very poor shape. It is poorly equipped, and that would be true of all hospital labs in Iraq. So please, feel free to send anything you want or don't need. It would be appreciated. Your ideas of offering sabbaticals and paying for conference fees would be great too. Many, including myself, would welcome the opportunity of going abroad and learning new techniques in the developed world, an opportunity I (and many others) never had. Now, after liberation, we can look forward to making our country a place where others would love to live. You see, the difference now is that we have hope ... we finally have our country back to ourselves ... a country we can call ours, not Saddam's. Thanks again for your kindness.