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IRAQ WAR -
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Doctors Something of a "Rarity" in Iraq

Posted in the database on Thursday, August 04th, 2005 @ 10:50:26 MST (857 views)
by Samir Haddad    IslamOnline.net  

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Many doctors have left abroad from unsafe Iraq.

BAGHDAD, August 3, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – It appears as if doctors have become something of a rarity in occupied Iraq whose medical system has been left in tatters since the US-led invasion and its ensuing violence.

Though hospitals are bursting at the seams with patients and people injured in US raids or bloody indiscriminate bombings, doctors who have become increasingly jittery over the deteriorating security conditions, are fleeing the scene.

“It is my dream now to get a job abroad. It is not safe any longer in Iraq,” cardiologist Rabeh Al-Assal told IslamOnline.net Wednesday, August 3.

A July 20 survey by the British NGO Iraq Body Count found that the US-led occupation forces in Iraq have caused 37 percent of civilian deaths – some 25,000 in just two years.

The survey further found that criminals and gangs came close second at 36 percent, while resistance fighters accounted for 9.5 percent.

“It is a hopeless case, it will take Iraq at least 20 years to recover,” added frustrated Assal.

Off-Limits

The unabated violence, which culminated Monday, August 1, in the grisly beheading and killing of 20 Iraqis by unknown militants in southwest Baghdad, has made hospitals and clinics off-limits to doctors after 07:00 pm.

Used to run round-the-clock shifts in the past to treat emergency cases, doctors now have slashed their working hours to only six hours a day and sometimes to just two.

“I nervously carried my son who was injured in his eye to a nearby clinic and it was 7:30 pm, but no body answered the door,” Moaed Al-Amari, who lives in the posh Al-Mansour district, told IOL.

Famed doctors in the country have cut it short and left the country for good.

Others opted for the tranquil north in cities like As- Sulaimaniyah (375km from Baghdad).

“A friend of mine in As-Sulaimaniyah told me that clinics have been mushrooming in the city over the past years thanks to security and stability,” said Subhi, a shop owner.

Armed Doctors

The mayhem and insecurity forced some doctors to carry weapons to protect themselves in a country where lawlessness and free-for-all looting have become part of normal life.

“Criminals often target doctors for money or to punish them, particularly surgeons, for failing to treat a relative,” said a Baghdad doctor who requested anonymity.

Spokesman for the health ministry, Qasim Allawi, said the government has allowed doctors and scientists to carry weapons to defend themselves.

He said an ad hoc ministerial committee has decided to set up special squads to provide basic protection for them.

Allawi further said that police patrols will be deployed to protect some 40 clinics and medical centers in Baghdad.

The ministry launched last month a nationwide media campaign to sound the alarms over the doctor killings phenomenon.

British medical charity Medact has warned that the health of the Iraqi people has deteriorated since the 2003 invasion.

It said one in four people in Iraq still depends on food aid and more children are underweight or chronically malnourished than in 2000.



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