• Kyodo News


Two female doctors from the war-torn Iraq city of Fallujah started a 100-day training program this week at Toho University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

Samira Telfah Abdalghani, a 42-year-old pediatrician from Fallujah General Hospital, and Rania Ibraheem al-Janabi, a 30-year-old gynecologist, arrived last week and started the training program at the medical school Monday, a nongovernmental organization said.

Attending a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Friday, the women described some of the hardships they face in their country and expressed hope they will learn a lot from the program.

“Our situation in Iraq, and in Fallujah specifically, as we all know . . . is miserable for everybody . . . because of the security situation,” al-Janabi said, adding that the medical procedures and instruments used in Iraq are backward.

“I hope I will have good training here and I will see up-to-date . . . techniques for treating in my specialty . . . so that I can (introduce them) to my country and benefit . . . suffering people there,” she said after the news conference.

Abdalghani described the lack of medicine and other necessities at the hospital she works at and said: “Japan is a very developed country and everything is up to date. I think we will be happy here.”

According to Iraqi Ambassador to Japan Ghanim Alwan al-Jumaily, who also attended the briefing, Iraq’s medical sector was one of the best in the Middle East until the 1980s. But it declined under U.N. economic sanctions imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait and has gotten worse since the 2003 invasion.

After the training program, the two women hope to work at a new general hospital being constructed in Fallujah, said Yukiko Hashida, who invited them with funds from a foundation she set up in memory of her late husband, Shinsuke, a journalist who was killed in an ambush in Iraq in 2004.

The Hashida Mohamad Memorial Fund, initially set up to help Mohamad Haytham Saleh, an Iraqi boy who was treated in Japan after his left eye was pierced during a firefight between Iraqi insurgents and U.S. soldiers, will donate all of the remaining funds, around 15 million yen, that the hospital needs to help build its gynecology and pediatric departments, Hashida said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.