Infectious diseases increase in Iraq as public health service deteriorates
- By: Owen Dyer
The health of Iraqis continues to decline more than 18 months after the invasion, and this year has seen an increase in the toll of infectious disease, says a report released last week by the Iraqi interim government.
Ala'din Alwan, interim health minister, presented the report to a conference of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq in Japan last week. “More Iraqis may have died as a result of inappropriate health policies, sanctions, and neglect of the health sector over the past 15 years than from wars and violence,” said Dr Alwan.
The greatest deficiencies are in primary care, public health infrastructure, and essential drugs. Fewer than a quarter of diabetic people in Iraq have access to insulin, and cancer drugs are almost non-existent despite an unexplained surge in cancer rates since the early 1990s. The report also notes a growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder in children.