Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 01, 2005

More stuff that isn't important enough for you to know about

I mean, if it isn't on TV, it isn't real, right?

I expect there may be exceptions among visitors here, but I seriously doubt that 1 American in 100 has ever heard of the international People's Health Movement. Even though you didn't hear about it from Brit Hume, I guarantee it exists, and it just finished it's second assembly, this time in Cuenca, Ecuador. Among other activities, it publishes a report called Global Health Watch every two years. This year's meeting, which you can read about in the BMJ here, heard that:

Increasing erosion in access to universal health care, growth of unregulated private providers, and declines in public funding are leaving millions of people without insured services. The Global Health Watch . . . cites evidence of surging medical poverty in many developing countries embracing market reforms, where lack of public health care is forcing families to exhaust what small savings they have on private treatments.

Yup, the Ownership Society is being exported. The assembly also heard this:

Iraqi physician Dr Salam Ismael claimed in a passionate testimony that "Crimes against health have been committed for two years in my country, and no one knows about them." Speaking on behalf of the organisation Doctors for Iraq, he described a number of alleged violations to human rights since occupation.

The organisation of 250 doctors was founded in 2003 to do research, give humanitarian relief, and promote the right to health. It has catalogued a number of human rights violations, including bombing hospitals, military raids on hospitals, killing patients who may be insurgents in their hospital beds and blocking ambulance transport of wounded combatants during the siege of Falluja.

Dr Ismael said there were times when physicians were harassed or arrested, sometimes in the middle of performing operations, because, Dr Ismael explained, "they are told they are treating insurgents. We tell them that under the Geneva Convention we treat all hurt or wounded people, including US soldiers and Iraqi security forces, but it makes little difference"

These alleged violations of health rights are occurring against the backdrop of an occupation that has dramatically worsened health conditions for most Iraqi citizens.

According to Dr Judith Cook of the UK based organisation Medact, "Sixty three per cent of households lack proper sanitation, 46% lack access to drinking water, food availability is still sparse with many reliant upon a system of food basket distribution, and, despite a large increase in per capita health funding in 2004, the public system remains severely underfunded."

The problem, Ms Cook argued, is that much of the US health aid is being channelled into US private healthcare companies as part of a privatisation agenda for the new Iraq. Increasing numbers of Iraqi citizens were abandoning the public system for private providers.

"President" Bush yesterday visited some Marines who had been severely wounded in Iraq. Just before heading off to Crawford to polish his phony 'git along li'l dogie accent and fall off his bicyle a few times, he praised the Marines for knowing why we are fighting in Iraq.

That's great news! Somebody knows why. Now maybe they can tell the rest of us.

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