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American Academy of Ophthalmology President leads alliance work to rebuild health care in Iraq
Date:10/26/2009

SAN FRANCISCOOn the eve of the first international medical education conference in Baghdad in 2004, the organizers faced a problem all too common at the time: a bomb threat on the building where the meeting was scheduled. Fortunately, the conference organizers, United States physicians working with their Iraqi counterparts, were ready with a backup location. For more than 700 Iraqi doctors hungry for up-to-date medical information, the conference was an important step in rebuilding the country's devastated medical infrastructure. This December, for the first time in decades, international medical researchers will meet in Baghdad. They will find conditions considerably improved.

"Helping my colleagues in Iraq continues to be a unique opportunity and challenge" said Michael W. Brennan, MD, president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an organizer of the 2004 conference. "Working with them to restore the Iraqi medical system is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, professionally and personally."

Dr. Brennan leads a team of dedicated American physicians working with Iraqi physicians to provide improved care as the country recovers from the traumas of war. He was just honored by the Iraqi Ophthalmological Society with a humanitarian award, presented at the 2009 Academy - Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology Joint Meeting in San Francisco.

Dr. Brennan first traveled to Iraq in 2003 at the request of US Army Surgeon General, James Peake, MD, a fellow West Point graduate, and Command Surgeon for US forces in Iraq, Donald Gagliano, MD, and by invitation of the Iraqi Ministry of Health. Since then he has returned to Iraq yearly (except 2005, when it was unsafe to travel) for extended periods of time.

"I had reached a place in my life where I was ready for a new challenge," said Dr. Brennan. "My ophthalmology practice was going well, and our children were grown. I was honored to be asked to help with such an impo
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade@aao.org
510-725-5677
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert

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