Thursday, August 28

How Sad Is The Medical Situation In Iraq?

Very. has a heart-wrenching cover story on the horrible situations hospitals are facing in Iraq. And since the masterminds of their county's takeover still refuse to get any international help, kids are dying there. An excerpt:

Children in Baghdad hospitals are dying of highly curable ailments such as diarrhea because of Iraq's corrupt, bureaucracy-plagued, crime-ridden healthcare system -- and the failure of U.S. administrators to come up with a workable alternative more than four months after the fall of Saddam. Certainly, babies died under Saddam's rule, though the dictator blamed U.S. sanctions for medical supply shortages, and treated scenes of dead children as photo opportunities to try to shame Americans. In post-Saddam Iraq, though, the delivery system, at least, is far worse. And just as the U.S. is being blamed for failing to plan adequately for postwar chaos on other fronts -- from restoring power to keeping order -- a growing chorus is outraged about the medical crisis in Baghdad.

But doctors, government agencies and relief organizations point fingers in different directions when laying blame for the troubles. Iraqi doctors say not enough medical supplies are reaching their pharmacies. American and Iraqi officials in charge of distributing those supplies insist Baghdad warehouses are full and supplies are available to those who ask, but the Saddam-era health bureaucracy, combined with a history of passivity on the part of health officials, mean hospitals aren't getting what they need. American soldiers trying to guard the medical warehouses say that Iraqis have been pilfering the medicines to sell on the black market -- and that the U.S. military can't or won't crack down and make sure the medicines are secure. "It's layer after layer of bullshit that you have to get through to solve the problem," says Army Reserve officer John Padgett, a doctor who's helping do a needs assessment of the healthcare system. "But the public hospitals should have some recourse other than going to the black markets for their medicines -- which is what they're doing now."
Chalk this up as #6,903 in the growing list of things we didn't count on when we pulled the trigger on this war.