Living Conditions in Iraq “Must Improve”

A new review has shown that the health of Iraqis will continue to deteriorate unless there is an improvement in living conditions.

Despite enormous investment in Iraq’s health system in the 10 years since the US-led invasion, the health condition of Iraqis has worsened.

A review led by Professor Salman Rawaf (pictured) from Imperial College London concludes that continual investment in health services is crucial to elevate the health status of the Iraqi population, but that progress will be limited without improvements in housing, water and sanitation, electricity, transport, agriculture, education and employment.

Published in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine the study involved several field visits to Iraq between 2011 and 2013. Professor Rawaf, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said:

There have been many attempts to come up with solutions that can help channel the resources needed to make Iraq’s health system more effective. But our review showed that strategists and planners have a blind spot when it comes to the work that needs to be done to improve all aspects of living which play a vital role in positively affecting the health status of the people.

The authors found that housing conditions in Iraq are in a dire state for the majority of the population, with half a million people living in squatter settlements. While the government is building 25,000 housing units a year, the current need is for three million. The infrastructure for water and sanitation is too old and is a source of illness for many people. Even in oil-rich Basra the water supply is not suitable for human consumption.

The national electricity supply is limited to 40 per cent, forcing the public to purchase electricity privately or rely on noisy domestic power generators that increase CO2 emissions and noise pollution. Roads are in poor condition and road traffic injuries unacceptably high.

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