Wednesday, July 28, 2004
This is the building for the Olympic Committee (Uday's office). It was damaged during the bombing but the main damage occured during the chaos after the 9th of April, it was completely looted then burned as shown in the picture.
Now, I couldn’t find it. Its somewhere behind the fence!!

This is the Ministry of Irrigation. It is fully renewed now :)
Note that the Olympic building and the ministry of Irrigation are adjacent to each other and adjacent to the Ministry of Irrigation is the building for the Ministry of Oil. It is interesting to know that the building for the Ministry of Oil was not even slightly damaged and was immediately protected by the Americans!
So it will have the same picture before the war, right after the war, and now. Unfortunately I have not taken a picture for the building :(

Following are some pictures taken right after the fall of the ex-Iraq regime, and pictures for the same places taken now.

Saturday, July 17, 2004
This post is only for people interested in health care in Iraq. If you are not, you will find it very boring.

Hospitals – revisited

Many of my friends abroad have been very concerned about the situation in Iraqi hospitals. I have previously talked about the situation in one of the main children hospitals in Baghdad, and now I will talk about Abu-Graib hospital.

The information I am stating is taken from a close relative of mine who is a surgeon in that hospital. The name Abu-Grapib must sound very familiar to many of you because of the Abu Graib prison. This hospital carries the same name because it lies in the same city. Abu Graib is a small city about 10 kilometers to the west of Baghdad with a population of about 500,000.

Facts and figures
- The hospital receives about 750-900 out-patients a day. About 600 of those are received in the morning shift with only 7 or 8 specialized doctors. This means that a doctor examines an average of 80 patients a day!!!!
- The hospital was built in the seventies when the population of the city was only about 50,000 and as I have mentioned, the population now is about 500,000.
- The hospital receives about 5 bullet and road traffic injury cases a day.
- In general the services level has not been improved but the wages have been reduced for the patients..
- Doctors are not allowed to describe more than three drug items for the patients. Usually there is only type of anti-biotic hence doctors don’t have to think a lot of what type of anti-biotic is most suitable for the patient. The decision has already been made for them. This is helpful in making all doctors equal. Good doctors and bad doctors will always give the same medicine because that’s the only medicine at hand.
- Shortage in suture material and hence doctors are left with no options to choose what is suitable for a certain case. They have to use what is available at the moment. This is again helpful in making sure that all doctors are equal.
- Amount and types of drugs are less than before (before the war that is) and without any coordination or planning as to the types and quantities supplied.
- The hospital has not gone through any renovation of any kind. It does not even have any sewage disposal system. About 5 tanks of sewage are usually drained from the hospital. Toilets are flooded and are completely unusable.
- The hospital lies in a very polluted area very close to a dirty public market for fish, meat, vegetables, etc.
- The doctors situation in the hospital is very bad. There is only one small room for the doctors with only 8 beds for 30 doctors and hence many doctors have to sleep on the floor when they need a rest. What a rest that would be!
- The time required to drive the 10 kilometers between Baghdad and Abu-Graib may range from 15 minutes to 90 minutes depending on many factors like temporary road blocks and the presence of American troops.
- There comes cases where shootings occur inside the hospital and doctors are sometimes threatened by the patients or their families.
- If the patient dies, the doctor will have to pay a compensation for the deceased family, regardless of the reason of death. The amount of compensation is about 3,000,000 ID (about $1,500) or get killed. With the absence of law, such compensations are carried out under the tribal law. On the other hand, an operation only costs the patient about $70.

Good news
- The hospital has an air conditioning system
- The hospital has a large standby generator. That is the hospital has no problems with electricity.
- Ambulances are available.
- The hospital was donated a Sonar machine.

Good or Bad?
- In the first days after the fall of the ex-regime during the looting, the hospital was protected by the good civilians living near the hospital. They protected the hospital for several days till the Americans took over and started protecting the hospital. That means the hospital was not looted. I must say that though the Americans were late in starting to protect such vital organizations, my relative doctor was impressed by the politeness of the soldiers that were protecting the hospital and how much did they care not to scare nor annoy the patients there. And as they say: better late than never.
- The salary for the doctors increased by a factor of almost a hundred. Now my relative who is a surgeon with 17 years of experience in practicing medicine, gets paid about $350 a month. Much much better than before, but this is still considered a small salary for someone like him. A newly employed IT specialist now may get paid more than that in the private sector.

Surprisingly bad news
During the Falloojah events (Abu Graib is the nearest city to Falloojah) when the Americans surrounded Fallojah city, the Americans surrounded the hospital and there were snipers all over the place shooting ‘anyone’ coming towards the hospital and the hospital remained empty for about a week.

That’s all the information I gathered. I did my best to be as accurate as possible and I hope that this information answers as much of your questions as possible.