Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More bad medical news from Iraq

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who frequently reports the otherwise unreported from Iraq. He sends this:
26 June 2005

An urgent humanitarian crisis is unfolding in occupied west Iraq. The Doctors for Iraq Society is calling on you to act NOW. US occupation soldiers have conducted simultaneous military operations in cities across the west of Iraq. Between May- June 2005, the heaviest of these attacks took place in the cities of Haditha and Al-Qa'im. These cities and surrounding villages are home to an estimated 300,000 people.

Eyewitness and medical personnel in the area have described how US soldiers prevented food and medication reaching Haditha and Al-Qa'im and targeted the cities two main hospitals, medical staff and ambulances.

US soldiers violated the Geneva Convention and international law by preventing civilians from accessing healthcare. Eyewitnesses reported at least one patient being shot dead in his bed on a hospital ward. Doctors were prevented from assisting patients and civilians in need. A number of doctors and medical personnel were killed in the attack and others were arrested by US forces in the hospital. They were later released, along with the hospital manager who was detained for two days.

The huge military operations in the area have caused widespread damage and an unknown number of civilians were killed and injured during the attack.

Video footage shot by doctors shows a badly damage medical store in the Haditha hospital and damaged surgical theatres. The medical store contained medicine and equipment for all hospitals and medical centers in the west of Iraq. Staff and patients say the damage was carried out by "by violent and barbaric US soldiers."

The Doctors for Iraq Society and other Iraqi organizations working in the area are asking for urgent assistance from outside Iraq to help equip the hospital with medication and other essential supplies.

Medical staff need basics such as medicines, surgical sets, laundry unit, laboratory equipment and surgical sets.

Staff and patients also need urgent protection from the ongoing brutal actions of US occupation forces who continue to violate international law by carrying out attacks on patients and medical staff in Iraq.

The Doctors for Iraq Society is calling on human rights organizations to conduct an urgent investigation into what happened in Haditha and Al-Qa'im, and to take testimonies from eyewitnesses and medical staff in the area.
A few days after Dahr's letter arrived the Christian Science Monitor reported medical experts were increasingly concerned Iraqi women were dying during childbirth because the chaotic and violent situation prevented them from receiving proper obstetrical care. Maternal mortality has tripled since 1990 (the last year before US hostilities were launched against the country) with out of hospital births are now almost two thirds of the total. 80% of these have no trained attendants. (via Kaiser Reports)

The war is a medical, social and moral catastrophe for the Iraqi people.