Tuesday, June 14, 2005

War's traveling companion

War's constant traveling companion, Disease, is enjoying its new stomping ground, "free" Iraq. Before the war, Iraq was a relatively advanced and developed country technically and tuberculosis had been under control for almost half a century. No longer. The dramatic deterioration in living standards "liberation" has produced--reduced access to clean water, clean food and medical care--has resulted in a dramatic increase in TB. The small city of Amarah, 360 km south of Baghdad is a case in point:
"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. (IRIN via AlertNews)
Work by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and WHO had brought TB prevalence from 20% to 2% in the last several decades, but the disease is still stigmatized and lack of government action is compounding the problem:
"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.

"The government is not improving the health system and our lives are worsening. The treatment can be found only in private pharmacies that suck our blood due to high prices and I don't have money," he added.
So add the tubercle bacillus to the blessings of Bush's "freedom for the Iraqi people": car bombs, bullets, assassinations and no electricity. What a fucking mess.