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Mobile Medical Truck Trains Healthcare Professionals Throughout Iraq

by Rabia Paracha, Staff Reporter | July 17, 2009
Mohamad Husam, left,
and Ali Al-Jumaili
study schematic
diagram for
a state-of-the-art
dental chair
within a
medical equipment
training truck refurbished
in June.
The Operations, Maintenance and Sustainment branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Gulf Region Division (GRD) in Iraq spent part of June refurbishing a medical equipment training truck into a mobile dental, medical, and blood lab training vehicle for use by health care providers and technicians at Primary Health Care (PHC) centers and hospitals across Iraq.

"Originally, it was a simple blood laboratory and X-ray truck," said Mohamad Husam, Deputy Program Manager, Operations, Maintenance and Sustainment branch of the GRD, "but we added the dental chair and additional blood work lab equipment."

As part of distress inventory from the Iraqi Ministry of Health, USACE took possession of the 40-by-8-foot truck, completed repairs, and upgraded the system inside to transform the vehicle into a fully functional training vehicle with state-of-the-art medical equipment.

The truck includes a dental chair and a laboratory behind the driver's cab.
The training vehicle
includes an intraoral
camera system so
dentists can better
demonstrate to patients
what is happening
with their teeth
or mouth tissue.

The truck's laboratory instruments, which are typical of those already provided to Iraqi PHCs and hospitals, can help measure or diagnose blood group and Rh factor, blood cholesterol, blood-sugar level, blood hemoglobin percentage, blood urea, blood cell sediment rate, Rose Bengal test to detect Malta Fever, typhus, and uric acid.

An X-ray machine capable of making images of a patient either standing or lying on a table is also in the back of the truck.

The truck's X-ray machine utilizes computed radiography (CR) processing to acquire images from the X-ray machine and process them through large flat cassettes of film. Because the vehicle uses CR X-ray equipment, no silver-based film or chemicals are required to process film. Instead, the cassettes contain film coated with a barium compound. The CR processing machine automatically removes the exposed barium film from its cassette and scans it with a laser beam. The laser beam then activates the image.
The truck is also
something of a
mobile billboard,
as about every
square millimeter
of space on
both sides is
covered with large
graphics designed by
GRD artist Leo Zubritsky.

The activated image is then transferred to an on-board computer through a scanning machine that erases the picture from the sheet of film after the image is uploaded electronically. This same sheet of barium is then able to be reused thousands of times. Also, since the images are transferred onto a computer, the images can be easily manipulated to improve their readability, printed onto a sheet film, and transferred electronically to other doctors locally or even abroad via the Internet.

The rolling instructional workshop will go into the 133 newly built PHC centers and 44 renovated hospitals, the construction for which had been managed by GRD. Seventeen of the 133 PHCs were identified by GRD for follow-on maintenance for a wide variety of issues, including medical equipment installation, sufficient supply of clean water, and wall cracks. A $16.1 million budget for multiple contracts was set to correct these issues along with providing funding to train Iraqi personnel to operate, maintain and repair the medical equipment that comes with the newly constructed or renovated health care facilities.