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With Medicine, Medical Equipment, Hospital Beds, Books and Fresh Foods,
All Our Children Campaign Continues to Meet Health Needs of Young Iraqis

July 11, 2003, NEW YORK CITY - Adequate rest, good nutrition and proper hygiene are essential complements to professional medical care for getting and staying healthy.

Accordingly, the All Our Children campaign for Iraqi children’s health is funding not only medicine and medical equipment, but also beds, bedding and fresh food deliveries for pediatric hospitals and a book project to sensitize children about hygiene, landmines and other health and safety issues.

The National Council of Churches U.S.A., the global ecumenical humanitarian agency Church World Service and other partners founded All Our Children in December 2002 as an extension of their already long-standing response to Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, three wars in 20 years, a repressive regime and more than a decade of trade sanctions.

All Our Children set a fund-raising target of $1 million. Just before and during the recent U.S.-led war on Iraq, the campaign provided $264,006 in cash and $183,414 in-kind in medicine, medical equipment, wheelchairs, blankets, bedding sets, personal hygiene kits, emergency food aid and cleaning supplies for pediatric hospitals and clinics and a program serving street children.

This week, All Our Children is forwarding a total of $115,000 more in funds for three new projects, which will be implemented through local partners:

Local purchase of 100 beds for the Ibn Al-Aheer and Al Khassa Pediatric Hospitals in Mosul, where there are not enough beds for the patients. Two or three children have to share each bed, resulting in transmission of infections and delaying of the healing process as children can’t get enough rest. Beds will be purchased in the local market, where good quality metal frame beds, mattresses and covers are available.

A book project to sensitize children about landmines, hygiene and other safety and health issues. An Iraqi artist and an Iraqi social worker will lead children in an interactive process to develop the book and distribute copies in Iraqi schools, especially in rural areas where few such activities are taking place.

Purchase and distribution of fresh foods for 37 hospitals in Baghdad and Basra - enough for three meals a day for 5,000 people over a 10-day period. Under the former Iraqi regime, hospitals received food from the government through the "oil for food" program. Just before the war, the World Food Program distributed three months of dry food rations to hospitals to prevent a food crisis - but fresh food stocks ran out and were not replenished.

To help respond to the shortages and boost nutrition and morale until better times prevail, non-government organizations began taking turns providing fresh tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, onion, cabbage, eggs, oranges, milk powder and mineral water. "Our aim is to help fill the gap until the normal administrations are able to handle this activity," said All Our Children’s coordinator, Steve Weaver, reached in Baghdad on his satellite phone.

This is All Our Children’s second round of food aid to Iraqi hospitals. In April-May 2003, the campaign funded fresh food distributions to 21 hospitals over a two-week period, with supplementary deliveries of dry food to seven hospitals and powdered milk to 18 hospitals.

Serious Health, Other Humanitarian Needs Continue in Iraq

The United Nations attributes the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the 1990s trade sanctions, which left the public health system short of medicine, medical equipment and other supplies; led to the breakdown of water and sanitation systems, and exhausted the resources of many Iraqi families.

According to the U.N., Iraq’s "extremely fragile" health system is operating at no more than half of its capacity and is struggling to cope as pre-existing problems were exacerbated by the recent war. Iraq has seen alarming increases in malnutrition, diarrhea and other illnesses among children since the start of the war.

More than a month after President Bush declared the end of major hostilities in the recent U.S.-led war on Iraq, "there is quite a lot of confusion still," said All Our Children’s Weaver. Authorities "are not sure what medical supplies are in storage, and distribution systems have broken down."

"Don’t forget Iraq," Weaver urged. "Even though major media may not be giving the humanitarian situation much attention, there are still serious humanitarian needs in Iraq - and a lot of things we can do to help."

Besides Church World Service and the National Council of Churches U.S.A., All Our Children partners are: Jubilee Partners, Mennonite Central Committee, Sojourners, Lutheran World Relief, Stop Hunger Now and Oxfam America.

To date, the following Church World Service member denominations have provided financial support for All Our Children through CWS: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ and Church of the Brethren, along with Episcopal Relief and Development and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

In addition to the financial support it has raised specifically for the All Our Children Campaign, Church World Service has contributed more than $5 million for humanitarian assistance since 1991 - most recently, $1.2 million worth of surgical kits and sterile surgical components.

Contributions are welcome. By mail, write CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, All Our Children Campaign, Account #6801, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations can be made by calling 1-800-297-1516. On-line contributions to: www.churchworldservice.org

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