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Iraq's once impressive health system was in tatters by the start of the 2003 invasion as result of sanctions and budget cuts. Facilities suffered further damage and looting during the war.

In 2004, child mortality had more than doubled since 1990, life expectancy was eight years below the regional average and 25% of under-fives were malnourished.

However, health spending rose from $16m in 2002 to about $1bn in 2005. Some hospitals have been refurbished and the spread of disease has slowed, but diarrhoea caused by dirty water still claims children's lives in some areas.

Drug shortages are improving, but an exodus of doctors has left expertise in short supply. Reports say 80% of doctors and professors have deserted hospitals and universities in some areas of Baghdad.

Graph showing malnutrition rates in Iraqi children.

Graph showing live expectancy in Iraq compared with Arab and developing states in recent decades.



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