Iraqi Hospitals Crumble as Drugs Vanish

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2009 7:19 PM CDT
Fadil Abbas arrives at a hospital in Iskandariyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, after being wounded in a suicide bombing Saturday, April 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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(Newser) – Filthy, bug-infested Iraqi hospitals still lack basic equipment and supplies that could save thousands of lives, McClatchy reports. With sectarian violence down, doctors and aid groups are blaming government corruption for the nation's health woes. "The government has money," said a fourth-year resident at a Baghdad hospital. "So you tell me why I can't get basic medicines at the best ER in Baghdad."

Once offering the Middle East's best health care, Iraqi hospitals crumbled under years of international sanctions and sectarian violence. Now, critics say, corrupt officials sell drugs and equipment on the black market before they can reach hospitals. The national health inspector admits to problems, but rarely catches anyone. "A lot more would survive if we had more medicines," one pediatrician said. "I try not to think about how many."