Bad to Worse and Worse to Bad

            The pod cast “Alive in Baghdad” recently ran a story on the hospitals of Iraq and the problems they are facing.  This story immediately reminded me of Oliver Stone’s classic Born on The Fourth of July.  The similarities are frightening.  The only difference is that these hospitals are not just for members of the military, like in the movie; these are Iraq’s general hospitals for the entirety of its population. 

            The difference between the two is that through-out the movie the conditions are worsening in the Hospital.  Initially when Tom Cruzes character gets injured he I taken care of relatively well.  He gets regular physical therapy, and has his diagnosis given to him by a seemingly legitimate doctor.  However by the time Cruz’s character breaks his leg it’s a different story.  I remember him yelling “I need a bath” and “I shit my pants!”  The situation deterioration increases rapidly once the new doctor is introduced.  Cruz’s characters pump that is attached to his leg breaks and he is told that without the pump he will loose his leg, so the doctor as ridiculous as it is, goes down to the basement to look for something to use instead.  

            In Iraq the hospitals are similar in terms of capabilities and overall service; however the situation is going from worse to bad instead of bad to worse.  This is a subtle difference but a major one. 

            In the pod cast the first thing I was struck by is how alike the rooms look.  The beds look akin to the ones in the movie and so do the rooms.   The only major difference was brighter lights and the absence of an anti-Vietnam staff.  The reasons behind the struggling hospitals in Iraq are obvious, bombing, looting, and theft just to name a few.  This is the opposite of the reasons behind the deteriorating hospitals in the movie which were lack of funding because we were too busy bombing other countries. 

            There are other factors that affected Iraq’s health care system.  One being the mass exodus of doctors and surgeons as the violence became too great.  Other problems like mass damage to hospitals as a result of ill advised bombing and sectarian violence.  Even to this day hospitals remain a target.  An unforeseen factor is water, or to be more specific the lack there of.  The absence of clear water readily available to the population and the health care industry presents a serious and two-fold problem.  This problem is quickly developing into a cholera epidemic.

            The hope for Iraq is a resurgence of intellectuals that left with the “brain drain” that proceeded the fall.  With enough doctors the Iraqi’s are determined to restore the “spine of the Iraq government.

            Alive in Baghdad


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