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Doctors Protest Conditions and U.S. Appointee

Iraq's new Health Ministry 'is made up of the old corrupted figures,' they say.

May 08, 2003|From Reuters

BAGHDAD — Scores of Iraqi doctors took to the streets Wednesday to protest the city's deteriorating health system and the U.S. appointment of an official from the ousted regime as the new head of the Health Ministry.

U.S. officials last week appointed Ali Shnan Janabi, a ministry undersecretary in the government of deposed President Saddam Hussein, as head of the agency. Janabi was a high-ranking member of Hussein's Baath Party, an organization hated by many Iraqis.

"Ali Shnan ... is a hypocrite. He is not the right man for the post," said Ihab Sami, a doctor at Shadid Adnan Hospital. "No one loves him. He was one of the worst people at the ministry."

The U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Postwar Iraq had planned a news conference on the Health Ministry appointments today but postponed the conference for two days, without giving a reason.

As many as 200 doctors from 25 hospitals in Baghdad and outlying areas chanted "No more corruption" and "We want a healthy health system" during the protest outside the Palestine Hotel in the capital.

"We do not want the demonstration to look like a strike, so not all the doctors took part in it," Sami said. "It's a peaceful rally to demand our rights."

Hospitals in Baghdad, hit by power outages and shortages of medical supplies, were badly affected by lawlessness after Hussein's fall April 9. Delays in bringing in international aid also have hampered the work of doctors in a country already suffering under mismanagement and years of sanctions.

"The new ministry is made up of the old corrupted figures who had an effective role in damaging the health system," said Amadudin Suaidi, another doctor.

The demonstrators demanded the dismissal of all the Health Ministry undersecretaries and directors and improvements in resident doctors' living standards.

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