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[casi-analysis] US says Iraq's health care system improving

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This gives the other point of view. Unfortunately it seems to be
impossible to get a more neutral view on this. Under sanctions, at
least we had the UN and more feedback from NGO's

*** article

Iraq's health-care system -- suffering first from neglect and then
from war damages -- is starting to show signs of life, a U.S.
government official said on Tuesday.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who returned
from a two-day visit to Iraq on Monday, said renovated hospitals and
clinics, better doctors and an influx of cash were starting to
improve Iraqis' health.

"Things are getting better," Thompson told reporters.
Iraq's Ministry of Health, which recently finished the $1.7 million
reconstruction of its headquarters, was also likely to become the
first Iraqi ministry to be run without any help from the U.S.-led
coalition, according to Thompson.

Health Minister Dr. Khudair Abbas was "doing a wonderful job,"
Thompson said.

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein "starved the medical system,"
providing $16 million -- or 68 cents per person per year -- for
health care in 2002, Thompson said. This year's health budget for
Iraq is $950 million, funded mostly from the country's oil sales.
Iraqi doctors have seen their salaries jump from $20 a month to
between $120 and $180 a month, and a number of Iraqi doctors from
abroad have returned, Thompson said.

A Department of Defense report released last week also said the
ministry plans to teach new medical skills to 2,500 medical staff by
early April.

Next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to
send a team to Iraq to set up a computer-based disease monitoring
system. Thompson said U.S. officials are also working to establish a
hospital records administration system to help create patient
records, which don't exist.

While it is too soon to see a significant decline in health problems
like child mortality and various diseases, Thompson said new
facilities and more resources would soon change that.

"I think you're going to see great improvement this year," he said.
Other goals for Iraq's health-care system include establishing a
system for primary care, better mental health treatment, preventative
care and more modern cancer therapies, Thompson said.

Reuters, March 2

Mark Parkinson

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