Iraq's health service is leaving its civilians defenceless
in the continuing violence rocking the country
An estimated 655,000 civilians have been killed so far in the war in Iraq.

Experts say as many as half of those deaths might have been avoided if proper medical care had been provided to the victims. 

About $20 billion has reportedly been spent on the reconstruction of Iraqi medical and hospital network since the US-led invasion of the country.  

But billions of dollars have allegedly gone missing because of a combination of criminal activity, corruption, and negligence, leaving many Iraqis without even basic medical care.

More than 18,000 doctors have left the country in the last four years and of those who remained 250 have been kidnapped and, in 2005 alone, 65 were killed. 

The widespread outbreak of cholera has left
3,300 people infected

Iraqi doctors are calling for international help to stem the soaring death rate and ease the suffering of injured families and children.

They say governments and the international medical community are ignoring their plight.

Hospitals often provided refuge in Baghdad but they are now unsafe and many Iraqis are avoiding them.

What can the international community do to help Iraqis caught in the sectarian violence?

Where did the billions of dollars meant for health improvements and the reconstruction of Iraq go to? 

Our guests this week are:

Hicham Hassan, a spokesperson for the ICRC delegation for Iraq, Dr. Naeema Al-Gasseer, the World Health Organisation representative in Iraq, and Dr. Zeryan Othman, the minister of health in the Kurdish regional government.

Watch this episode of Inside Iraq here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

This episode of Inside Iraq airs from 12th October 2007

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Source: Al Jazeera