[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 10 July, 2004, 21:04 GMT 22:04 UK
Iraq appeals for health funding
A five-year-old Iraqi girl, her right arm amputated, lies in a hospital bed in Hilla, Iraq
The victims of violence are stretching hospital resources
The new government in Iraq has made an urgent international appeal for funds to buy medicines.

Health Minister Alaadin Alwan said there were shortages of basic antibiotics, as well as drugs to combat cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

He said Iraq needed to at least double its annual health budget of $1bn to tackle the problem.

But he acknowledged that corruption and mismanagement remained, with some drugs still ending up on the black market.

Hospitals have faced huge strains during the continuing violence in Iraq.

Iraqi doctors are praised internationally for their skills, but medicines and equipment are in short supply.

Observers say another problem over the last two decades has been the "brain drain" of healthcare professionals to foreign countries.

'Urgent measures'

"There is a wide range of medicines where our stock is either zero or very, very small and this is why we need urgent measures," Mr Alwan told reporters.

Mr Alwan said the health ministry was holding discussions with the World Bank, the United Nations and several countries to help meet the country's needs.

"We need at least another $1bn to address our needs in rebuilding the physical infrastructure of the health sector," Mr Alwan said.

The minister said that while the "leaking" of drugs from hospitals into the black market was still a problem, plans had been drawn up to try to tackle corruption.

"Corruption exists in public institutions, but we have always warned people not to buy drugs from unauthorised sources, as their quality may not be assured," Mr Alwan said.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says shortages were common under the previous government of Saddam Hussein due to a combination of economic sanctions, neglect and corruption.

But she adds that 15 months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, Iraq's health system is still a long way from recovery.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"Shortages of medicines and equipment were common under Saddam Hussain"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific