Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Iraq Health Care

BAGHDAD: Iraq's neglected health system needs up to eight billion dollars over the next four years for reconstruction, the deputy health minister said. The U.S. pledged $786 million in 2004 to build clinics, repair neglected hospitals and buy modern medical equipment.

But some 25 percent of the money - which is fast running out - was spent on security as a bloody insurgency that emerged after the March 2003 US-led invasion targeted the projects, a U.S. health official said.

Asked in an interview how much money Iraq required to restore its health care system, which suffered decades of neglect under Saddam Hussein, Saffar said: "Over the next four years, we need seven to eight billion dollars just for reconstruction. This does not include the operational budget."

Under the new situation, they are going to have to look for private donors and hope that the government finds health as important as new roads and stuffing their own greedy pockets or those of their provinces and business partners.

As I noted in a previous post, the health situation in Iraq is pretty dire. It wasn't very good during the sanctions and it has to overcome even more problems since corruption, theft and general violence eats up the money for supplies.

Not that there wasn't corruption under Saddam, it's just that it was a little more organized and the administraters of the hospital knew who to deal with. Now, every man and his brother wants something and that probably includes the appointed administraters.

Last year, Dr. Humanity, no longer blogging, said that supplies would be delivered and then routinely stolen right from the hospital to be sold on the black market.

The Daily Star - Politics - Iraq needs up to $8 billion to revive neglected health sector

At the same time, it appears that the largest Children's Hospital in Iraq is about to get upgraded:

Work is underway to renovate Alwaiya Children’s Hospital, which sees 300 youngsters daily, from newborns up. The $2.9 million project is upgrading and modernizing the 217-bed facility’s capabilities. Upgrades include a new water purification system, new air conditioning and heating system, medical waste incinerator, oxygen plant and central vacuum system, nurse call system, intercom paging system, data communications network, new toilets, showers and sinks. Additionally, workers will install a new exhaust system to remove unhealthy air and odors, a new generator system for emergency power, new lighting, and new surface treatments, and perform structural repair.

Three Baghdad medical schools use Alwaiya Children’s Hospital for internships and about 70 percent of the construction is completed.

Dr. Khalilzad pointed out Alwaiya is part of a broader effort to help Iraq. “The U.S. is renovating some 19 hospitals across Iraq, and building a new one in Basrah.” In addition, 142 primary healthcare centers are being constructed.

Of course, if you saw this video earlier this week, refurbishing the hospital is only half the problem, but supplies and medicine are bound to be the responsibility of the new government. The other problem is trained specialized physicians who can operate on heart conditions, brain tumors and the many other specialized treatments and operations. It's a long hard slog until Iraq can see the kind of care that is even available in countries like Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

It's crying out for privatization.

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