Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Sat

20

Dec

2008

Looking After Pockets, Not Patients
Saturday, 20 December 2008 16:12
by Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail

A nurse at Baquba General Hospital asked Ahmed Ali, who co-authored this report, for a bribe to look after his sick baby. It was hardly an exceptional demand. Patients around Iraq have begun commonly to speak of the need to bribe medical staff to get some form of care.

“Nurses in Iraqi hospitals are no angels of mercy,” Falah Najim, who was a patient at the main hospital in Baquba told IPS. “They look after their pockets, not the patient.”

The practice of bribing medical staff has been around since at least the 1990s, during the difficult days of the sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf War. After the U.S. invasion of 2003, this seems to have become worse, like so much else in Iraq.

“The profession of medicine has changed from a profession of mercy to just money making,” Abdullah Najeeb, a trader in Baquba city, about 40km north-east of Baghdad, told IPS.

Staff shortage has clearly made the problem worse. More than half of about 36,000 medical workers who were in the country at the time the U.S. invasion, including doctors, nurses and other staff, have fled the country. “It is very hard to see a doctor in a hospital or in a clinic,” hospital employee Sabay Ismail told IPS.

Stories of suffering in hospitals have become commonplace.

Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.



“I spent a night in the public hospital without air-conditioning,” the mother of a baby, who did not wish to give her name, told IPS. “My baby kept sweating all night in the heat. The resident doctor came to see the child only once. I took my baby away; we did not complete the treatment. Then I could not find good medical treatment even in the private hospitals. The baby died because of their negligence.”

“There are two public hospitals in Baquba; one for children and the other is general,” an official in the Diyala directorate-general of health told IPS, requesting anonymity. In both, he said, “we continue to suffer from a shortage of doctors.”

“Twenty pregnant women might have only one doctor to help them deliver the child within a space of one or two hours,” the husband of a pregnant woman due to deliver told IPS. “Hundreds of people who go to hospital may find an employee or nurse, but no doctor.”

The few doctors who remain are mostly resident doctors or young graduates. Most specialists and senior doctors have long since fled.

The ones who remain make do with ill-equipped hospitals. “The government specifies big funds and projects for renovation and equipment for the hospitals,” an official in the provincial health office told IPS. “But deals are made between the contractors and the politicians.”

Former deputy minister for health Dr Amer Al-Khuzaie had told IPS in 2005 that his ministry was allocated a billion dollars of the 18.6 billion dollars set aside by the U.S. government for rebuilding Iraq.

But the Ministry of Health does not have control over the funds, Al-Khuzaie said. Instead USAID, the U.S. government body responsible for allocating reconstruction funds, handed out contracts to foreign corporations. The corporations spent the funds as they saw fit.

Now, the problem is more of corruption. In late 2007, the Ministry of Health was taken over by Shia politicians aligned with cleric Mutada Al-Sadr. There is almost nothing of the budget to show in Iraq’s hospitals. “They only paint the walls,” says Baquba resident Bahira Aboud.

Private hospitals have their own handicaps. “Two months ago my six-year-old daughter went for tonsils surgery,” said resident Abul-Amir Mahood. “After they gave her anaesthetic, the electricity shut down. They had no generator. I waited for my daughter to regain consciousness, then just took her back home.”

The health ministry has reported a recent outbreak of cholera. This has scared residents in Baquba because the local hospitals are not equipped to deal with it.

In Baquba, as in many other cities, most of the established clinics are closed. Some doctors see patients in their houses, that have been turned into impromptu, ill-equipped, clinics.

A large number of such ‘clinics’ have come up, where doctors charge patients ten to 20 dollars for a consultation. Where the average monthly salary — for those lucky enough to have a job — is around 180 dollars, this is a heavy fee.

And not for the best treatment. “There are doctors who see more than 100 patients a day,” said resident Fatima Edan. “Their diagnosis is badly affected by the speed with which they go through patients. The quicker the better, they are greedy for more money.”

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East).
More from this author:
Saddam Execution Set to Destabilise Iraq Further (5736 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 (IPS) - Former dictator Saddam Hussein is due to be executed next month in a move that could...
Democracy Now! Interview: U.S. Army Tries to Force Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail to Testify Against Ehren Watada " (6397 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail Lt. Ehren Watada, for those who don't already know, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the...
Security Meet Ends, Insecurity Does Not (5749 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily BAGHDAD, Mar 12 (IPS) - The security conference held last Saturday in Baghdad produced statements, drew...
Give Us Some Real Political Leaders (5788 Hits)
by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail BAGHDAD, Mar 15 (IPS) - Many Iraqis are now looking to local political leadership to fill wide gaps in a...
Another Casualty: Coverage of the Iraq War (4800 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail Foreign Policy In Focus Editor: Erik Leaver, IPS and John Feffer, IRC www.fpif.org Iraq is the most dangerous place...
Related Articles:
The Alleged "Liquid Bombing" Plot Revisited -- Maybe It Was Possible After All (10329 Hits)
by Winter Patriot As described in media reports of the day, the alleged "liquid bombing" plot which was allegedly foiled during the...
Through the Looking Glass Darkly (6032 Hits)
by Ed Naha This past Saturday, 25 American troops died in Iraq. It was the third worst day in the history of the so-called war. The unofficial...
After Democrats Pick Obama or Hillary, U.S. Election May Be Over (5678 Hits)
by ddjango Looks like the fat lady won't even have to stretch her pipes. This from Xinjingbao, in China (reprinted in full): After...
Waging Peace, Part 5: Looking The Beast in the Eye (5442 Hits)
by ddjango Courage, it is said, is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of the fear. Yes I'm scared. There's good reason to be....
A Pig Looking at a Watch: Assessing Iran's Nuclear Program (5265 Hits)
by Walter C. Uhler Now that North Korea might reopen its doors to weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), U.S....


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (0)add comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top 123