This is Liberated Iraq
AlterNet is running the speech Dr. Entissar Mohammad Ariabi gave on Saturday in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dr. Entissar is a phamacist from Baghdad who is currently touring the U.S. with Gobal Exchange and CodePink:
Many people thought that after the U.S. occupied our country and the sanctions were lifted, the health care of the Iraqi people would improve. But the occupation has made it worse. Many of the Iraqi hospitals in cities like Baghdad, Al-Qaim, and Fallujah were bombed and destroyed. Many ambulances were attacked and health workers killed, despite the fact that it is illegal under international law to attack hospitals, ambulances and health workers.Meantime, the Bush cabal repeated their lies on the Sunday talk shows complaining about all the negative media coverage coming out of Iraq. If reporters were able to do their jobs unembedded and outside of the Green Zone and people like Dr. Entissar had access to the national 'liberal media,' the cabal would fall apart.
After our hospitals were bombed and looted, millions of dollars were given to contractors to repair them. We suggested that this money be used to buy things that we urgently need, but the contractors refused and instead bought furniture and flowers and superficial things. Meanwhile, we suffer from a critical shortage of medicines, emergency supplies and anesthesia, and there is no sterilization in the operation rooms. As the director of the pharmacy department in my hospital, I refused to sit on a new chair while there were no sterile operating rooms.
Diseases that were under control under the regime of Saddam Hussein, diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, meningitis, polio, have now returned to haunt the population, especially the children. Death due to cancer has increased because treatment programs stopped and medicines are not available. The health of the Iraqi people is also devastated by environmental contamination due to the destruction of our water and sewage systems.
The health of women, particularly pregnant women, has deteriorated. Many pregnant women suffer from malnutrition. When it comes time to give birth, many women prefer to give birth at home because they fear being shot on their way to the hospital and they know the bad conditions in the hospitals. As a result, more women are dying in childbirth, and more babies are dying.
Before the occupation, with all the problems we had under sanctions, Iraq ranked number 80 in the worldwide list of deaths of children under 5. Today, we have jumped up to number 36. UNICEF has said that the rate of severe malnutrition among Iraqi children has almost doubled since the occupation.
We have also lost our most important resources -- our doctors. Iraqi doctors are under attack from all sides. Many have been killed or very badly beaten or arrested by the American troops. In Fallujah, the hospital was bombed and doctors were killed inside. In Haditha, the Americans arrested the doctors in the hospital and beat them very badly. I saw Dr. Jamil, the only surgeon in the hospital, 21 days later. His face was still swollen and his nose was black and blue. The director was also beaten and held for a week inside the hospital.
With the chaos that has reigned since the invasion, over 200 Iraqi doctors have been kidnapped for ransom. Sometimes their families pay money and they are released, and then the whole family, terrified, flees the country. Others are killed by their kidnappers.