Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

5/06/2003

Most hospitals in Baghdad well supplied
Things get better and better daily now that Iraq has been liberated...


U.S. military officials charged with rebuilding Iraq's emergency services say that hospitals in Baghdad are in far better shape than previous reports of massive looting had indicated.
Far from having been stripped bare, the majority of hospitals have adequate equipment, and more crutches and medication have arrived than are needed, thanks to contributions from international humanitarian organizations.
Officials also said that, according to private surveys, fewer than half of Baghdad's hospitals had been ransacked. One independent survey said seven of 27 hospitals examined had been looted and that many others were spared because they were guarded by American tanks.
There are more hospital beds available in Baghdad than there are patients to fill them, the U.S. officials said late last week.
The International Committee of the Red Cross provided some independent backing for that claim, reporting that the 250-bed Al Na'uman hospital had 90 patients.
"The staff are generally less busy now, and carry out five to six surgical interventions a day," the report said.
The U.S. team said a lack of electricity and water supplies continues to pose some problems for hospitals, though most are coping either on the city's power or on generators.
Doctors and staff have mostly returned to work, the Red Cross and U.S. officials said.
Doctors at two Baghdad hospitals ? one state-run and the other private ? said in interviews that their main business was attending to people with gunshot wounds or burns caused by antilooter and antitheft vigilante activities, score-settling, handling of unexploded ordnance and general lawlessness.

At St. Rafael's, the private hospital closest to the center of Baghdad, the Iraqi Dominican sisters who run it said they had acted swiftly when looters were gathering after the government collapsed last month.
"We ran out and urged American soldiers to guard us," said Sister Marcia Sultana Hana. "They came right away ? with two tanks and some soldiers. They're still here, and we're very pleased they are."
Lt. Col. Carol Hammes, a spokeswoman on medical affairs for U.S. Central Command, said the United States was coordinating medical efforts with private relief organizations.
"The unfortunate part, the problem we have, is we continue to get these offers and donations that really overwhelm the system," she said.
"Drugs and medications get outdated. The amount is just too much," she added. "We have enough crutches and bandages to last us 10 years."
Large supplies of drugs ? probably diverted from civilian hospitals by Saddam Hussein's regime to be used for military casualties ? were found in at least three warehouses by troops looking for weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. officers are looking for ways to upgrade the medical system, especially in the Shi'ite-dominated south, where infrastructure has long been neglected.
Dr. Skip Burkle, a senior medical official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, has proposed a scheme where Western hospitals "adopt" Iraqi hospitals and help them with staff training, equipment and exchange programs.

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