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June 14, 2005

The four horsemen of Iraq’s apocalypse

It seems that “democracy” isn’t the only thing we’ve given Iraq:

AMARAH, 13 June (IRIN) - Iraqi doctors say they are concerned over an increase in Tuberculosis (TB) cases in the southeastern city of Amarah, fueled by a shortage of medicine and poor living conditions. The disease, which has been under control in the area for more than 50 years, has been rising steadily since the conflict in 2003.
… “The spread of TB after more than 50 years is something worrying. The total of 400 cases is a huge number in relation to the population of Amarah and the number is increasing daily,” director of the chest diseases hospital in Amarah, Dr Hameed Jassim, said.
… “I did not tell my family that I have TB, I told them something else and they believed me because they are simple people. If I tell them they won’t speak to me. I cannot work now to support my family and I sent my wife and son to her parents home afraid that they will catch the disease,” construction worker, Salim Muhammed said as he lay in his bed.

Twenty years ago, almost 20% of Iraqis had TB, but efforts by the country’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) had cut that to 2% by the start of the 21st century. Now, thanks to the war, that trend has been reversed.

WHO officials have said they are sending teams to the region to supply drugs and assist in controlling the spread of TB, but they are fighting a losing battle with poor sanitation. A May 2005 survey on living conditions by the UN and Iraq’s Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation paints a grim picture:

Electricity shortages, poor sewage systems and a lack of clean water were the overriding issues when it came to basic needs, according to the survey. Only 43 percent of those in rural areas had access to clean water compared to 66 percent in urban areas … More than 78 percent had less than 12 hours of power per day. Nearly 63 percent of respondents were not connected to any sewage system, with those in rural areas being worse off.

And most of this data is from over a year ago, before the insurgency really took hold—sorry, I mean “started to crumble.”

So let’s see: War, Death, now Pestilence… that just leaves Famine. But wait:

The survey [also] showed that nearly a quarter of children aged between six months and five years were malnourished.
“My son died last year due to malnutrition, due to the fact that we have little money to offer for medical treatment. Something should be done to prevent more children dying in this country,” Hanan Kubaissy, a mother of four, told IRIN in Bataween, a suburb of the capital.

And you thought those “Apocalypse Now” bumper stickers were joking.

Posted by Stephen at 6:30 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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