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Washington Post Examines Iraq’s Baghdad Hospital

In an article looking at Baghdad Hospital, the Washington Post reports that “[i]t is difficult to overstate how far [the hospital] has come since the worst days of the war, when supplies were so scarce that doctors sometimes performed open heart surgery without gloves. … Arriving at work was a small miracle: The hospital has lost at least 40 doctors to assassins since 2004 – they are still occasionally targeted – and their photos stare down from walls.”

Now as “a semblance of calm has settled over Iraq, doctors say the biggest menace to patients these days is not so much a lack of money, basic training or even supplies. Rather, they say, it is the skewed priorities of a corrupt, often indifferent Health Ministry that has gone on spending sprees in certain realms while leaving basic health care to flounder.” The article says the “problems are emblematic of the wider dysfunction of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government as a whole.” 

While “such issues are common to developing nations, which is what Iraq essentially is,” the Washington Post reports that “to a large extent, the dysfunction has been enabled and well modeled by the United States, whose $61 billion reconstruction effort included nearly $1 billion poured into the Iraqi health sector, spending followed by audits that documented huge cost overruns, delays, poor planning and waste.”

According to Stuart Bowen, U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, “The health sector was the worst. … It’s the sector that fell the farthest short of expectations” (McCrummen, 5/9).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.