07/08/2020, 09.51
IRAQ
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Baghdad in losing battle against Covid-19 and poverty

by Joseph Mahmoud

Two days ago, Iraq recorded 2567 deaths and over 62275 cases of infection, mostly in Baghdad. In June, there was a 600% increase in cases of infection. Shortage of health facilities and personnel: in the country of 39 million inhabitants, there are 1.4 hospital beds for every 1000 inhabitants; 0.7 doctors per 1000 inhabitants and 500 ventilators for intensive care. During the coronavirus epidemic, poverty rose from 22% to 34%.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Weakened by past wars, an economy grappling with low oil prices and a government mired in corruption, Iraq is unable to defend itself against Covid-19.

Data from the International Rescue Committee reveals the pandemic saw a 600% increase in cases in June; four times more than the May figures. Two days ago, Iraq recorded 2567 deaths and over 62275 cases of infection, mostly in Baghdad.

The situation is particularly grave given the insufficient health facilities. Iraq, which allocates only 1.8% of its budget to health care, has only 1.4 beds for every 1000 inhabitants; 0.7 doctors per 1000 inhabitants and 500 ventilators for intensive care: all this for a population of 39 million people.

Healthcare workers, who have been waiting for wages for months, often have to pay for their own protection material (masks, overalls, gloves ...). This has led to the infection of many doctors and nurses. According to Iraqi authorities, at least 13 doctors have already died from Covid-19. People are enraged by the lack of health facilities and care for patients.

But it is above all the economic crisis that weighs on the country and makes the containment of the pandemic almost impossible. Many Iraqis, who have to work to provide for their family’s survival, do not respect quarantine measures.

The Ministry of Social Affairs says that during the pandemic, the poverty rate in the country has grown from 22 to 34%. The most exposed to the risk of contagion are those who live in the slums, about 3 million, and internal refugees, about 1.5 million.

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