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  • Tuesday, July 19, 2005


    Hospitals in Iraq

    I originally heard this info on Democracy Now! None of it is new to me but I think it bears repeating because of the lie it gives to the "good news" about the occupation of Iraq. When hospitals and health workers are systematically targeted by military forces, it's a serious breach of international law. I can't think of any excuse for it. Insurgents using the hospital for propaganda value? Doctors treating wounded insurgents? Because once you start creating exceptions you start deciding denying medical attention to all sorts of people is acceptable.

    The following is from Dahr Jamail's Iraqui Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation. This report was submitted as evidence to the Jury of conscience during the culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq, Istanbul, 23-27 June, 2005.
    Early in 2004, prior to this report, Dr. Geert Van Moorter, a Belgian M.D., conducted a fact-finding mission to Iraq where he surveyed hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. Van Moorter concluded: “Nowhere had any new medical material arrived since the end of the war. The medical material, already outdated, broken down or malfunctioning after twelve years of embargo, had further deteriorated over the past year.”[16]

    Findings in this report suggest that Dr. Van Moorter’s statement remains true today, albeit with the continued deterioration of equipment, supplies, and staffing, further complicated by an astronomical increase in patients due to the violent nature of the occupation of Iraq. This report documents the desperate supply shortages facing hospitals, the disastrous effect that the lack of basic services like water and electricity have on hospitals and the disruption of medical services at Iraqi hospitals by US military forces.

    This report further provides an overview of the situation afflicting the hospitals in Iraq in order to highlight the desperate need for the promised “rehabilitation” of the medical system. Case studies highlight several of the findings and demonstrate that Iraqis need to reconstruct and rehabilitate the healthcare system. Reconstruction efforts by US firms have patently failed, while Iraqi contractors are not allowed to do the work.
    And this is from the Democracy Now! interview:
    DAHR JAMAIL: Well, exactly. It's a grossly overlooked topic. The Ministry of Health was due to receive $1 billion of the reconstruction funds, and where has that money gone? Of course, corruption is rampant. But a larger question for the United States government is what has happened to the companies that were awarded the contracts for the rebuilding, such as A.B.T. and other companies, handed out the contracts from U.S.A.I.D. There's almost no oversight going on. Where is the reconstruction that they have said they have completed? The hospitals have received basically paint jobs and sometimes new furniture, but as far as equipment and supplies that they have needed and medicines, it's just not there. [...]

    Of all of the contracts handed out in Iraq since the invasion, roughly 2% of the value of all of the money available for reconstruction have gone to Iraqi concerns, so it's the same in the medical situation.

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