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Privatising Iraqi health

Iraq's public health service is being replaced by American-inspired private care. The poor may turn to the mosques for medical help

By Jonathan Kaplan   November 2003

Baghdad in April 2003 was a difficult place to do effective humanitarian work, and things have become more awkward since. I was in the city as a surgeon with an international medical organisation. US forces had declared the Iraqi capital conquered, but buildings continued to burn and not an hour was free of gunfire.

The city’s hospitals had treated many casualties during the bombing, emptying emergency stores of medical supplies. After the arrival of the Americans, much of the remainder was looted, with the pillage continuing even as staff tried to deal with arriving casualties. Operating rooms looked like charnel…

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