The Iraqi Ministry of Health inaugurated the "Italian Hospital" last week along with a number of new health projects in Karbala province.
Local government and Ministry of Health officials said the new hospital specializes in internal medicine and will help support many health centers across the province.
"This project will take Karbala province to a new level in providing medical services to citizens because it is a medical center with complete specifications," said Dr. Alaa Hamoudi, director of the Karbala health department.
The new hospital has 120 beds and was supplied with modern medical equipment, such as magnetic resonance imaging scanners, CAT scanners, a mammogram screener and x-ray machines.
"The hospital was built in a modern style that goes in line with the efforts being made in Iraq, and in Karbala in particular, to improve the image of the medical centers in the country and to help citizens find treatment at local hospitals without the need to travel outside Iraq for treatment," Hamoudi told Mawtani.
The new hospital is called the Italian Hospital because an Italian consultancy company started construction on it at the beginning of 2007, but soon left the project because of security concerns at the time. An Iraqi construction company completed the work.
Previously, Karbala had only one general facility, the Hussein General Hospital, which was built in the 1960s. Most emergency cases and injuries from terrorist attacks in the past were taken to hospitals in Najaf or Babel.
A number of other health projects attached to the Hussein General Hospital were also inaugurated last week, such as a new building for the burns ward, an administrative wing of the hospital that includes halls for meetings and conferences, and a new laboratory building with modern equipment.
Dr. Natheer al-Rubaie, director of the Hussein General Hospital, told Mawtani that "all these projects are dedicated to serving citizens."
"Construction of these projects confirms the attention of the local and the central governments to start new projects in all sectors, including the health services sector, which has started to develop well recently," he said.
Citizens of Karbala welcomed the opening of the new health facility.
"People of Karbala used to suffer from lack of health care and the shortage of medical centers in the province," said Yas Fadhil, a trader. "But now Karbala has numerous health centers scattered in neighborhoods, districts and sub-districts. The Italian Hospital came to complement the Iraqi government's achievements in boosting the health situation."
"The Italian Hospital will contribute a great deal toward reducing citizens' hardship because they will not have to go to other provinces or travel outside the country for treatment," Fadhil said.
Wihda Aziz Aboudi, a housewife who lives in the city of Karbala, said the new hospital will help ease crowding at Hussein General Hospital.
"The Iraqi government is working on providing medical services to citizens with the consideration that public health is part of its responsibility and health services are some of the most important services that should be made available to citizens," she said.