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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #127 - 1 msg

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Today's Topics:

   1. Iraq appeals for health funding (Mark Parkinson)


Message: 1
From: "Mark Parkinson" <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 23:34:18 +0100
Subject: Iraq appeals for health funding

The victims of violence are stretching hospital resources  The new
government in Iraq has made an urgent international appeal for funds
to buy medicines. Health Minister Alaadin Alwan said there were
shortages of basic antibiotics, as well as drugs to combat cancer,
diabetes and heart disease.

He said Iraq needed to at least double its annual health budget of
$1bn to tackle the problem.

But he acknowledged that corruption and mismanagement remained, with
some drugs still ending up on the black market.

Hospitals have faced huge strains during the continuing violence in

Iraqi doctors are praised internationally for their skills, but
medicines and equipment are in short supply.

Observers say another problem over the last two decades has been the
"brain drain" of healthcare professionals to foreign countries.

'Urgent measures'

"There is a wide range of medicines where our stock is either zero or
very, very small and this is why we need urgent measures," Mr Alwan
told reporters.

Mr Alwan said the health ministry was holding discussions with the
World Bank, the United Nations and several countries to help meet the
country's needs.

"We need at least another $1bn to address our needs in rebuilding the
physical infrastructure of the health sector," Mr Alwan said.

The minister said that while the "leaking" of drugs from hospitals
into the black market was still a problem, plans had been drawn up to
try to tackle corruption.

"Corruption exists in public institutions, but we have always warned
people not to buy drugs from unauthorised sources, as their quality
may not be assured," Mr Alwan said.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says shortages were common under
the previous government of Saddam Hussein due to a combination of
economic sanctions, neglect and corruption.

But she adds that 15 months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, Iraq's
health system is still a long way from recovery.

Mark Parkinson

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