The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Dear Gaz and Diarmuidfogarty (sorry I don't know your name) Dear Gaz, My point was that we shouldn't concentrate on the state of Iraqi hospitals pre or post the Gulf War as a health issue (indeed, hospitals only deal with illness), but to recognise that it is the effect of sanctions which causes ill health in Iraq, and part of the effect of those sanctions is because Iraq can't import goods to repair the war damage (as you describe in your reply). It is the effect of sanctions, not the poor hospitals, which is causing illness and death in Iraq. Relating Gaz's comment re the value of lives of elderly people. Elderly people do not generally require expensive hospital treatment in order to enjoy old age. Factors which extend life include a good diet, a balanced lifestyle, freedom from stress, a balanced environment, etc., none of which are readily available in Iraq due to sanctions. Elderly people do not have expensive surgery in the West on a frequent basis; for example, my mother (nearly 80) has six older brothers and sisters, three still surviving, but none of the six have ever been admitted to hospital for surgery or expensive treatment, because it was not necessary, and all have lived to be over 80. In UK, frail elderly people are more likely to need assistance with personal care, for example, washing, dressing, taking to the toilet, etc, and they tend to be admitted to hospital when their carers are unable to cope with these problems for a variety of reasons. I did make the point that having an operation benefits the individual and his/her family, but overall this expensive treatment makes little difference to mortality statistics. My argument is remove sanctions, and Iraqi people will stop dying in their hundreds of thousands. Improve Iraqi hospitals, and Iraqis will still die at the same rate until sanctions are removed. For example, a few people may be saved from appendicitis, but they are still at risk of cholera and other water-borne disease. In not only my view but also in the view of a variety of people who have investigated health care systems world wide, the East, in the West, in the developed world, in the undeveloped world, hospitals are overrated and have little to do with either health or prolonging overall expectation of life, and they are extraordinarily expensive. As a health worker myself, I also think that we are overrated too, to address Gaz's point of training doctors and nurses, our hospital-based training mostly teaches us how to treat disease, rather than how to attain health. Unfortunately, the developing world saw our very imperfect hospitalised model of "disease care" (no country in the world has health care) and copied it, overlooking their chance to develop a different and better health care system, for example, the Primary Health Care model as described at Alma Ata, which does incidentally include a small curative care component, but the emphasis is on improving health. Although some countries claim to have introduced PHC, it is a fallacy, what they have introduced is a few PHC ideas interposed onto the same old medical model which has failed us for so long, proving both expensive, unsatisfactory, and inequitable. The difficulty is that there are too many players who want to maintain expensive Western style health care systems, such as pharmaceutical companies, health care companies, doctors, and of course patients who feel comforted with a visible health care provision. Once again, the ordinary public is wrongly influenced and misled by the interests of wealthy multinational companies. The influence of health internationals is so strong that very few politicians in the world dare to challenge it, dictator or democracy. If we health workers were all better trained in preventative care and how to attain health and concentrated on that, in rich and poor countries, and in Iraq, we would live longer and better. So please don't think that you need hospitals, doctors, or nurses, to attain health. I'm sure the average garbage worker in UK prevents more illness and saves more lives than any doctor or nurse, in UK or Iraq or elsewhere. Better sanitation in Iraq would also save many lives; you can't achieve it - because of sanctions. These are part of the humanitarian reasons why I think all health workers should fight to have sanctions removed in Iraq. I do incidentally agree with the sentiments of an earlier contribution to this discussion, that various American governments have caused a lot more illness and deaths in the world than the Ba'ath regime. That does not mean that I support Saddam Hussein. It means that I am against violence, and I have seen through America's pretence of being a force for "good". Judith. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk