Healing Iraq One Book at a Time: Medical Texts and Periodical Donations to Iraqi Healthcare Professionals

CPT Eileen Gillespie, RN


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2008;8(3) 

In This Article


In February 2008 I arrived in Iraq as part of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command Functional Specialty Team. The mission of Civil Affairs teams is to forge relationships with and build capacity in local Iraqi governments. As a healthcare professional (a registered nurse), I was asked to investigate avenues for donations of medical texts and periodicals to Iraqi healthcare professionals.

CPT Eileen Gillespie is a registered nurse deployed to Baghdad with the 353rd Civil Affairs Command Functional Specialty Team from New York, NY.

This request piqued my interest in the state of Iraqi healthcare. During the course of my search, I came across an article by David Gifford, MD, published on Medscape on January 16, 2007 that described the difficult circumstances facing Iraqi medical professionals. (See The Power of an Idea: Help for Iraqi Medical Professionals) This article highlighted a program that has been ongoing since 2003, directing donated healthcare texts and periodicals to Iraqi physicians, nurses, and others. In the past 5 years donations have been received from physicians, dentists, veterinarians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, medical and nursing students, and countless other professionals.

Since arriving, I have read about the hundreds of donations that have come into Iraq from the United States and the rest of the world. Coalition Force Civil Affairs units have consistently worked with American, international, and Iraqi civilians to distribute these books to physicians, clinics, hospitals, and medical schools, sometimes under extremely dangerous circumstances. I have read the reports of Civil Affairs Soldiers who have been truly touched by the gratitude shown by the Iraqi professionals who are the recipients of these donations.


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