The international trade and promotion arm of the Department of Health is helping to educate a new generation of Iraqi doctors to support the rebuilding of the country's shattered health service, its annual report reveals.

DH International works as both the official sponsor of the UK healthcare industry and of the work of the NHS. Its two-year scheme to educate Iraqi doctors started earlier this year under the supervision of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which is assisting in rebuilding medicine in Iraq.

The DoH-funded training will be developed from the colleges' experience of providing postgraduate medical training in the UK and will be agreed with the Iraqi ministry of health, which will be responsible for selecting candidates. Iraq is desperately short of doctors trained in orthopaedics, emergency medicine, general medicine, surgery, cancer and neonatology.

The programme will enable participants to build up their clinical knowledge and 'will equip them to become leaders and change agents in the development and reform of the Iraqi healthcare system'.

The programme is being delivered by HLSP - part of the Mott MacDonald management consultancy, the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges and BMJ Open Learning. A number of NHS trusts are also providing practical training opportunities.

A DoH spokeswoman said candidates are carefully screened by counter-terror services before they enter the UK.

DH International has also been meeting with Iraqi officials planning 10 400-bed hospitals in Iraq.

Elsewhere DH International has secured a multi-million pound deal to develop blood and transplant services in Brazil. A memorandum of understanding with the Brazilian ministry of health has resulted in the award of a US$16m factor VIII blood-clotting contract to Bio Products Laboratory, part of NHS Blood and Transplant.

It has also been involved in work with health ministries in Chile, India, China, Syria, Mexico, Jordan and Libya.