Health care in Iraq: Iraqis must wonder where it is

As long as you don’t need water, access to health care, have no concerns about public safety, don’t mind being unemployed, enjoy adventures as a refugee, aren’t worried the occupying forces are going to target you, and relish the challenge of living in a country with no to little infrastructure, daily life in Iraq is just peachy. Of course if any of those things might say have a negative impact on your ability to survive, then daily life is an ever changing lurch to avoid disaster.

The Red Cross managed to highlight just a few minor barriers for Iraqi citizens.

Among the discovered gems of reality….

Iraqi hospitals lack qualified staff and basic drugs, and facilities are not properly maintained, the Red Cross said

So…. Iraqis can have a fruitful productive life as long as they don’t get sick.

Public hospitals provide 30,000 beds, less than half of the 80,000 needed. Few Iraqis can afford to seek help in private clinics where consultations cost $2-$7 because the average daily wage in the country is less than $5.

And if you’re poor…. don’t get sick.

The Red Cross said Iraqi officials estimate that more than 2,200 doctors and nurses have been killed and more than 250 kidnapped since 2003

Even if you can find your way to the hospital with a few bucks for treatment, it might be hard to find anybody qualified to actually treat or care for you.

Water supplies have inconveniently deteriorated.

And the whole concept of “public water”, well turns out that whole personal choices and free market solutions mantra is alive and well.

At current prices, families with only one earner spend a third of their income – or about $50 a month – on water alone, the Red Cross said

Isn’t democracy great? You get to pay for your own water instead of having your civil rights violated by being forced to share clean, public water with other people. Who needs for hospital beds anyway, people should just toughen up and take better care of themselves while they are dodging bombs and bullets in the street.

Mother Jones, featured an interview with a doctor turned journalist who got permission to film inside a hospital, present the conditions. The entire interview is well worth a read here.

The article opens with this scenario:

If you need a blood transfusion at Baghdad’s Al Yarmouk hospital, you can get one-so long as someone’s there to donate blood on your behalf. If you need an operation, you can have one of those too-though your only anesthetic might be your friends and family holding you down. One big explosion can dry up the hospital’s saline supplies for a week, leaving the next explosion’s victims without the necessary treatment. And where triage is within a war zone doctors and ambulance drivers are regularly threatened and harassed.

This circus of Kafka is compounded by suspicious militias roaming the hospital, a lifeless and bureaucratic Ministry of Health, an a largely absent American military support for hospitals. The interview goes on to describe the threats the filmmaker felt, the horrific conditions, and lack of supplies. He ultimately stopped filming due to personal safety concerns.

This is how patients and the few remaining health care providers are given support by the occupying forces and the fragile impotent government.

Usually we cannot contact the American military. If the doctors need to do something they are supposed to go through the Iraqi Ministry of Health. That’s the rule there. Despite the fact that there’s no law on the street, inside the hospital there’s this strong bureaucratic method of dealing with things. Unfortunately the ministry is really corrupt and busy with a lot of things other than making sure services are supplied to the people. At the hospital there are no medications and nobody to care for a lot of patients who are staying there. Even the morgues. Every hospital should have some refrigerator that they keep the bodies inside, but most of them are broken. Bodies are literally lying on the ground in the sun, in the heat. It’s horrible

Do we still expect the Iraqi people to relish their freedom when they have to pay for water and bring their own blood supply to the hospital? Is this democracy? Is this what giving Iraqis autonomy means? I am sure fewer people  there are worried about going to hell or eternal damnation, seems like they have arrived.


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  1. cut it at this point.

    It would be some comfort a as a tax payer to know Iraqi citizens at least has clean water and hospitals that had equipment.

    To bad the big brained people can’t plan a surge to address those issues.

  2. Do you realize that if you save enough money, you can probably buy some of the ancient artifacts stolen from Baghdad to display in your living room?

    You could really make a statement that says, “I have succeeded. I am a winner. I have… things… that nobody else has, and they belong to me.”

    • Temmoku on March 17, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    is really….all about the oil. Cheney is glad to be back in Baghdad and Bush envies the soldiers’ romantic experience. Meanwhile, McCain worries that al Quaeda is in the pocket of the Democrats and may cause him to lose with their violent attacks!

    Kafka couldn’t have dreamed this up. It is the new neocon reality!

  3. being blown up tortured, terrorized, ripped off and all this the other total freakin atrocities we have subjected the Iragis people to why is this any different then here? Like we do? I have no health care can’t afford it. I’m on my own as they are, hey nobodies torturing me and blowing me up, yet. Healthcare is a ludicrous concept to both the people here who are outside and the people of Iraq who suffer atrocities at our hands and then have no alternative but us to ‘patch’ them up. Insaner then paying 40.00$ for an aspirin here, at least they aren’t shooting and killing us yet.      

    • creeper on March 18, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Few Iraqis can afford to seek help in private clinics where consultations cost $2-$7 because the average daily wage in the country is less than $5.

    Please do not take this as a lack of sympathy for the miserable plight of the Iraqis, but if you look at comparable statistics here in the United States you will find that without insurance coverage a visit to the doctor’s office can easily cost one day’s wages.

    We have more common ground with the Iraqis than we realize.

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